PORT ARANSAS, Texas - You can expect to find sun, surf and sand when you head to the beach, but what about creepy dolls?
Researchers say they have been finding the barnacle-covered toys washing up along the Texas coast.
Jace Tunnell, Director of the Mission-Aransas Reserve at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, says the team typically combs the beaches from North Padre Island up to Matagorda a couple of times a week. While they’re usually looking for wildlife, they sometimes find odd objects.
"You never know what you’re going to find washing in. About twice a month we find these crazy-looking dolls that are washing in," Tunnell says.
They post their finds to their social media pages. The dolls are often mangled, some missing limbs.
"When you get out there early before anyone else does, normally that’s whenever you find the real creepy stuff," he says.
Tunnell says they have been able to use the dolls for a fundraiser.
"Every year we host a fundraiser for the rehab facility for sea turtles. People actually buy these things. We had a doll head that was a pretty good size and somebody paid $35 for it. So that all goes towards rehabbing sea turtles," he says.
So what causes these unusual finds to wash ashore? Terrell says it all goes back to ocean currents.
"Many countries don't have a way to dispose of their trash properly so they use the ocean for their trash, or the rivers, which you know ultimately go to the ocean," Terrell says. "And so we have something called a loop current that goes around Mexico and goes up the east coast of Florida, but it creates these eddies. And those eddies, whatever’s in them gets pushed all the way up towards the Texas coast. And so we actually have 10 times the amount of trash here on our Texas coast than anywhere else in the Gulf of Mexico, from studies that we've done."