In 1997, a container packed with tons of LEGO pieces disappeared into the ocean near Cornwall. There were reportedly millions of accessories – 4.7 million to be exact – in the shipment including daisies, scuba flippers, dragons, and more. According to the BBC, the contents of the container were spilled when the Tokio Express ship carrying it was slammed by a giant wave. A total of 62 containers went overboard, and while the fate of most of the products contained in them is a mystery, the LEGO bits are still showing up on Cornish beaches today. That’s so much cooler than the usual beach fare of shells and sea glass. But watch your step!
Because the universe has a sense of humor, many of the LEGO pieces in the shipment have a nautical theme. There are pirate cutlasses, life preservers, ship rigging net, seagrass, scuba gear, and octopi. Locals have made hunting for the LEGO treasures somewhat of a competition, and Tracey of Newquay maintains a Facebook page called LEGO Lost at Sea documenting the pieces people find.
While searching for the leftover remnants of the Tokio Express losses is fun and a bit of a tourist attraction, gathering the accessories also gets them off the sand and out of harm’s way. Like any other debris in the water and on beaches, the LEGO pieces present a threat to wildlife. It’s hard to say how many total LEGO bits have been collected in the 17 years since the incident, but it’s probably nowhere near the five million that spilled out of the container.
If you were in the area, would you consider stopping by Cornwall’s beaches for a LEGO treasure hunt?