For more than 30 years bright orange "Garfield" phones have been washing up on the French coast to the bemusement of local beach cleaners. But now, they have have finally cracked the mystery behind them.
Locals had long suspected a lost shipping container was to blame for the novelty landline phones, modelled on the prickly feline cartoon character, that have plagued the northern Finistere beaches for decades.
"Our association has existed for 18 years and in that time we have found pieces of Garfield telephones almost each time we clean," said Claire Simonin, the head of local beach cleaning group Ar Viltansou in Brittany.
But it wasn't until a local resident revealed that he had discovered the container after a storm in the 1980s that they were finally able to locate it – wedged in a partially submerged cave only accessible at low tide.
The dry-witted Garfield, first dreamed up by illustrator Jim Davis in the late 1970s, has since spawned a television show, a film series starring Bill Murray as the voice of the titular cat, and a merchandising empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Plastic pollution problems
The discoveries in France highlight the problem of plastic pollution, which has become the subject of a major global environmental campaign in recent years.
The world currently produces more than 300 million tonnes of plastics annually, and there are at least five trillion plastic pieces floating in our oceans, scientists have estimated.
Some forecasts predict that there will be more plastic in the seas than fish by 2050.
Even animals living in the deepest ocean trenches have been found with fragments in their gut, according to new research published in February showing how the scourge reached into the bowels of the planet.