For 35 Years, Garfield Phones Have Been Washing Up on French Beaches; Today, the Mystery is Finally Solved

By: Stephen Thompson | Last updated: Sep 21, 2023

A strange thing started happening in France in the 80s. It involved plastic Garfield-themed toy phones washing up on the beaches of Brittany, along the Iroise Coast of France.

No one could tell where the plastic toys were coming from until recently when a chance discovery helped unravel the mystery. The plastic toys were such a common sight in that part of France that they became the reference point of a campaign against sea pollution.

The Secret Eventually Revealed

In 2019, the cat was finally let out of the bag when the source of the plastic Garfield phones became public knowledge.


Source: Facebook

It so happened that the phones were part of a lost shipping container that had been washed up on the shore for several decades. However, the container had remained hidden from public sight because it was stuck in an isolated area of Brittany’s Coast.

How the Anti-Litter Campaign Started

After a while of non-stop pollution of Brittany’s beaches with plastics, a group called the Ar Vilantsou decided to start an anti-litter campaign. The team comprised local volunteers who were passionate about having clean beaches in Brittany.


Source: Atlas Obscura

The campaign team used social media to spread information about the dangers of polluting the coastal waters and beaches. They took an extra step by collecting fragments of the Garfield plastic phones and posting pictures of the mess online.

Why Should We Be Concerned About Marine Pollution?

Plastic pollution has been a serious challenge in the water bodies of the world in recent years. Since the advent of consumer products and the popularity of plastic packaging, water bodies have borne the brunt of plastic pollution.  


Source: Flickr

Several environmentalists and marine conservationists have instituted initiatives to educate people about the implication of plastic materials finding their way into water bodies. Besides beaches getting littered, plastic poses a huge threat to aquatic animals.

Indirectly Feeding Yourself Plastic

Marine researchers have established that throwing plastic way into the sea and not cleaning up plastic pollutants is like serving ourselves a plate of prosthetic food.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

Basically, what this means is that plastic debris in the water bodies gets carried around by ocean currents. In the process, some of these items are nibbled upon by aquatic animals and birds and come in a full cycle before finding their way back to our meals.

A Patriotic Farmer Comes Forward

After the Ar Vilantsou campaign had gone on for a while, a local farmer in Brittany—Rene Morvan— reached out to them. It turns out that the first time Morvan saw those Garfield phones was in the 1980s.

Source: Facebook

He and a couple of other people traced the trail of plastic fragments and found it to be coming from a hidden cove in the rocks. The container conveying the plastic had gotten stuck underneath the rocks and had been dispersing its content ever since.


The Campaign Was a Success

Members of the Ar Vilantsou Anti-Litter campaign and journalists from France Info followed Morvan to the location of the lost container.

Source: YouTube

Claire Simonin-Le Meur, a member of Ar Vilantsou, acknowledged that the container was stuck and inaccessible. However, it was a good development that they could identify the source of the plastics that had plagued Brittany beaches for several years. So, with that knowledge, they can get proactive about evacuating the debris.


Rid Water Bodies of Debris That Are Not Biodegradable

No one would have bothered about plastics in water bodies but for their inability to biodegrade. That word means that plastics do not decompose easily. In fact, some plastics take centuries before they can be broken down.

Source: Doug Helton

Plastics, like greenhouse gases, are not the only environmental menace we have on our hands; there are cases of mid-sea oil spillages that devastate the aquatic ecosystem. Overall, there are several initiatives being instituted to rid the planet of these deadly pollutants.


Another Strange Object On a Japanese Beach

Similar to the Garfield phones washed up on the beaches of Brittany, a similar case has been recently reported in Japan.

Source: Twitter

A local woman visiting the Hamamatsu beach in Japan was the first to spot the spherical object. She did well to notify the authorities about the strange object. Consequently, the beach was sealed off from public access and an anti-bomb squad was dispatched to the scene.


Sophistication of Military Espionage and Warfare

Governments are becoming careful with how they address these kind of reports involving mysterious objects. Before investigation, the Garfield phones on the Brittany beach and the metallic ball on the Hamamatsu beach could have been some sort of new weapon.

Source: Instagram

In fact, since the shooting down of a Japanese spy balloon over United States territory, the UK has reviewed its security apparatus for responding to threats.