PORT ARANSAS, Texas (KXAN) — Their origins are unknown, barnacle-covered dolls continue to appear along the Texas shores at Port Aransas, and researchers there are documenting it for all to see.
The first doll washed ashore in January 2021, dubbed by the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve as “the craziest beach find of all time.” And yet, the craziness has continued.
Researchers told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that approximately 30 dolls have been collected in over a year. The dolls arrive covered in barnacles, missing limbs, and some stained green by algae.
While crews are stationed along Port Aransas specifically for research on coastal ecosystems, the dolls have added a bit of levity — and mystery — to their work, Mission-Aransas Reserve Director Jace Tunnell told the Star-Telegram.
“Every day is something new,” he said. “Just when you think you’ve found everything that could possibly wash up on shore, something else comes up.”
Texas beaches are often scattered with seaweed and jellyfish – and litter – because of the way the currents flow in the Gulf of Mexico, explains Texas Aquatic Science. Gulf currents move toward Texas shores from both the north and south, bringing with them anything that gets dumped in the water. The trash could be coming from Mexico, any of the Gulf states, or it could have fallen off a ship out at sea.
The Mission-Aransas Reserve has been posting its beachcombing finds on its Facebook page. It’s not just creepy dolls that wash up – the group has found a message in a bottle, scientific instruments, and a decoy duck in recent weeks.