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Garfield phones have been washing up on French beaches for decades. Now we finally know why

Locals believed the phones were coming from a shipping container that had sunk, but could not figure out where the container was located.
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Garfield the Cat, with Snuggle the Bear behind, floats down Broadway in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, Thursday, Nov. 23, 1989. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)

For the past few decades, a Garfield mystery has gripped western France. Now, thanks to an environmental group, the case has finally been closed. 

For about 35 years, telephones shaped like the lasagna-loving, Monday-hating cat have been washing up on the shores of the beaches along the Iroise Sea in Brittany. 

The phones weren't just showing up every once and a while. According to FranceInfo, about 200 pieces of Garfield phones were found in 2018 alone. Claire Simonin-Le Meur, president of the environmental group Ar Viltansoù, told FranceInfo that every time the group went out to clean the beaches, they'd find three or phones. The phones were found in pieces and whole, with Garfield's colors and stripes remarkably preserved. 

The group believed that the phones were coming from a shipping container that had sunk and was now leaking its feline contents out into the ocean, but they couldn't figure out the location of the container. Simonin Le Meur and the rest of the environmental group continued to search for the phones because they were worried the plastic was polluting the oceans. 

“We were looking for it, but we had no precise idea of where it could be,” Simonin-Le Meur told the Washington Post.  “We thought it was under the sea. We asked people who were divers to look for it. We get a lot of submarines in the area too — it’s a military area. But they said it was not possible the container could be there and nobody saw it.” 

After more than three decades, a local farmer finally solved the mystery. René Morvan saw news coverage of the Garfield phones and reached out to Simonin Le Meur. He had gone exploring years ago after a storm blew through the area, bringing with it a stash of Garfield phones. He found the shipping container in a cave that was only accessible during low tides. 

The group waited until it was safe to enter the cave, and filmed their search for the phones, but when they arrived it was clear that most of the phones had already been washed away. The shipping container was empty. 

Although the mystery had been solved, the problem had not. Since the phones had all been washed away, Garfield phones continue to pollute the beaches in France. The Marine National Park of Iroise thanked Simonin Le Meur in a Facebook post, and said that they would continue to work on reducing the pollution surrounding the beaches.