A stretch of coastline in France has reported an unusual item repeatedly washing up on its shores over the last 30 years - in the form of a famously lasagne-loving orange cat.

According to a report from the French-language broadcasterFrancetvinfo.fr, retro telephones in the shape of Garfield – the comic strip cat created in 1978 – have been found at every beach cleaning in the Iroise area of Brittany, in north-western France.

The phones are around 30 centimetres long and made of hard orange plastic, with eyelids that open and close - a popular remnant from the 1980s that have continuously washed up on the sand of the Pointe du Finistère for 30 years.

The Garfield phones have been found on the beaches of Plougonvelin, Ploumoguer (pictured) and Plouarzel, in the northwestern area of Finistere in France. Photo / Getty Images
The Garfield phones have been found on the beaches of Plougonvelin, Ploumoguer (pictured) and Plouarzel, in the northwestern area of Finistere in France. Photo / Getty Images

According to Claire Simonin Le Meur, president of the association Viltansoù, around 200 Garfield telephones washed up in 2018, "about the equivalent of a fisherman's crate".

Advertisement

These have mainly appearing within a radius of 24 kilometres and especially on the beaches of Plougonvelin, Ploumoguer or Plouarzel.

"It never stops, with each cleaning, we collect three, four phones whole or in pieces," said Le Meur, her organization Viltansoù was the first to report the unusual reoccurring pollution.

"The state of the phones is amazing, these objects are hard plastic and still have their paintings," she said.

In the poetry that can only come from automatic translations, the article describes how "at the whim of his whims, the ocean regularly rejects an eye, an arm, a leg or even the whole body of these plastic Garfields".

Due to the phenomenon, the Ansel association integrated Garfield phones to the list of recurring waste recorded on its Ocean Plastic Tracker website, which lists the most frequent plastic detritus found on the coasts since 2017.

The Ocean Plastic Tracker lists the most frequent plastic detritus found on the coasts since 2017. Screenshot / Ocean Plastic Tracker
The Ocean Plastic Tracker lists the most frequent plastic detritus found on the coasts since 2017. Screenshot / Ocean Plastic Tracker

"Garfield cat's plastic is heavy, it does not float. Most of them remain in containers that rest on the seabed. These containers are stirred by the storms and let their cargo escape," read a translated statement from Ansel co-founder Lional Lucas.

Some have theorised that the Garfield phones originate from a container ship that may have grounded in the nearby Bay of Brest in the early 1980s. However, Paws, the company which owns the merchandising licence for the character told FranceInfo it had no knowledge of the cargo.

While it confirmed the devices were made in the 1980s, it said they could possibly be counterfeits.

Garfield phones were popular in the 1980s. Photo / Flickr, echoesofstars
Garfield phones were popular in the 1980s. Photo / Flickr, echoesofstars

Despite their unknown origins, the Garfield phones continue to wash to shore – and once picked up, the remnants are "treasured" by beach cleaning organisations, who use them to track pollution.

For Viltansoù, they've become an "emblem" of its cleaning operations – with children taking particular joy in finding the colourful phones.

"Garfield is a strong driver of interest, beach cleanups are almost like a treasure hunt, and even my kids, with whom I clean up, cannot wait to find Garfield phones," said Le Meur.

Perhaps one day the mystery will be solved – but for now, these organisations will continue to collect and track pieces of Garfield.