Everything from rare dead animals to human feet still in their shoes have washed ashore across the globe – but for the last two years, Texas’s flavor of flotus has been cursed dolls. The sinister phenomenon was observed by researchers from the University of Texas Marine Science Institute who have been finding dozens of dolls across the Mission-Aransas Reserve’s 64-kilometer (40-mile) stretch of coastline.
“Oh boy, a creepy doll,” a team member exclaims upon finding one such item in a beachcombing video on the Mission-Aransas Reserve Facebook page. “I know a bunch of you weirdos out there will like this […] Gooseneck barnacles coming out of the eye, maybe we’re gonna sell this one on the internet.”
If you’re wondering who on Earth would want the zombie beach baby, so did we, but it turns out there’s a market for crusty dolls. According to Southern Living, the swathes of dolls recovered from the reserve are stored in a bucket before being sold at an annual fundraising auction.
“The creepiest are the ones that have lost all their hair,” said director of the Mission Aransas Reserve Jace Tunnell to McClatchy News. “We’re actually doing scientific work, but the dolls are a perk.”
From barnacle-eyed to bald and one that was actually the head of a sex doll (which sold for $35), the cast of castaways is a rich tapestry – but where do they come from?
The curious case of the ocean-dwelling dolls taps into the region’s unique currents, which make the beaches along the Texas Coastal Bend a veritable magnet for ocean trash. United Press International reports that research has found the beaches here receive 10 times the amount of marine garbage received by the shorelines of Florida and Mississippi.
The funnel effect is due to what Tunnell describes as a “loop current” which creates eddies that redirect rubbish towards the reserve’s coastline. However, the dolls seem to be most partial to landing between Padre Island and Matagorda Island.
Plastic, while damaging to our oceans, is quickly occupied by a host of marine animals once it’s left in the sea. Barnacle eyes are a common feature among the reserve’s visiting doll heads, while others arrive with a wolverine-esque coating of fuzzy algae.
Rubber ducks historically proved themselves to be great ocean travelers too when, in 1992, a storm in the Pacific set in motion one of the largest studies into global ocean currents after a freighter lost a consignment of 28,800 bath toys. The toys are still being found washed onto beaches across the globe, demonstrating the permanence of hard plastic even in an environment as harsh as the open ocean.
However, even an army of rubber ducks is less disturbing than an undisclosed volume of bald, barnacley dolls.
So, who’s optioning a horror on the Drifting Dolls Heads of Mission-Aransas?