Millions of Legos parts sank in the sea 17 years ago still see todayalong the beach
Source : my paper http://mypaper.sg/lifestyle/where-will-lego-treasure-wash-next-20140722
"LeT me see if I can find a cutlass," says Tracey Williams, poking around some large rocks on Perran Sands with a stick.
She does not manage that, but does spot a gleaming white, pristine daisy on the beach in Perranporth, Cornwall. The flower looks good for its age, seeing as it is 17 years old.
It is one of 353,264 plastic daisies dropped into the sea in 1997, when a container filled with nearly 4.8 million pieces of Lego fell off a ship, after it was hit by a freak wave off Land's End.
No-one knows exactly what happened next, but shortly after that, some of those Lego pieces began washing up in both the northern and southern coasts of Cornwall. They are still coming in today.
A quirk of fate meant many of the Lego items were nautical-themed, so locals and tourists alike started finding miniature cutlasses, flippers, spear guns, seagrass, scuba gear as well as dragons and daisies.
"There're stories of kids in the late 1990s having buckets of dragons on the beach, selling them," says Ms Williams, who lives in Newquay.
"These days, the holy grail is an octopus or a dragon. I know of only three octopuses being found, and one was by me, in a cave in Challaborough. It's quite competitive. If you heard that your neighbour had found a green dragon, you'd want to go out and find one yourself."
She runs a Facebook page which documents the Lego discoveries, and recently received an e-mail message from someone in Melbourne who found a flipper which could have been from the accident.
United States oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer has tracked the story of the Lego pieces since it was spilled.
"The mystery is where they've ended up. After 17 years, they've only been definitely reported off the coast of Cornwall," he says.
It takes three years for sea debris to cross the Atlantic Ocean, from Land's End to Florida. Some Lego pieces are likely to have made the crossing, and some may have gone around the world. But there is not any proof that it has arrived, as yet.
"I go to beach-combing events in Florida and they show me Lego - but it's the wrong kind. It's all local stuff kids have left behind."
Since 1997, those pieces could have drifted 100,000km, he says. It is 39,000km around the equator, meaning they could be on any beach on earth. Theoretically, the pieces of Lego could keep going around the ocean for centuries.
"The most profound lesson I've learnt from the Lego story is that things that go to the bottom of the sea don't always stay there," Mr Ebbesmeyer adds.
The incident is a perfect example of how, even when inside a steel container, sunken items don't stay sunken. They can be carried around the world, seemingly randomly, but subject to the planet's currents and tides.
He said: "Tracking currents is like tracking ghosts - you can't see them. You can only see where flotsam started and where it ended up."