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4.8 million Legos all at sea

by Adam Clark Estes on 22 Jul 2014
Lego dragons Tracey Williams
Along the charming coast of Cornwall, England near the town of Perranporth, there's a beach that's constantly blanketed in Legos. Tiny flippers, little plastic dragons, a brick here and there—these pieces have been washing ashore since a shipping accident in 1997 sent 4.8 million pieces into the sea nearby. And one-by-one, out they come, as the BBC reports.

Funnily enough, the majority of the many millions of Lego are actually nautical-themed. The manifest for the ill-fated Tokio Express container ship indicates that there are some 418,000 of those flippers and 33,941 of the dragons. There are also 13,000 spear guns, 97,500 scuba sets, and 4,200 black octopi.

'These days the holy grail is an octopus or a dragon,' local resident and collector Tracey Williams recently told the BBC. 'I only know of three octopuses being found, and one was by me, in a cave in Challaborough, Devon. It's quite competitive.'

While there's certainly something whimsical about millions of toys appearing on a quiet beach, the fact that countless pounds of plastic—even if it's Lego plastic!—is floating around the ocean is obviously a problem. The Lego container was only one of 62 shipping containers that fell off the Tokio Express ship, and that's just a drop in the bucket compared to the 10,000 or so shipping containers that are lost at sea each year.

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