No one knew why the Garfield phones kept popping up on a beach in France — until now

By Jason Duaine Hahn
March 29, 2019 07:19 PM

The mystery behind an endless amount of Garfield phones that have washed up on a European beach for the last 35 years has finally been solved — but the tale is far from over.

Since the mid-1980s, broken and battered phones featuring the famous cat’s smiling face have washed ashore in Brittany, France, and locals couldn’t track down where, exactly, they were coming from. According to the Washington Post, the seemingly infinite number of Garfield phones that have surfaced over the decades has troubled environmentalists, Claire Simonin-Le Meur, president of the environmental group Ar Viltansoù, told the newspaper. As many as 200 pieces of the devices were found just last year.


While locals believed the phones — which were very popular in the 80s — might have been spewing from a sunken shipping container, finding its location was another story.

“We were looking for it, but we had no precise idea of where it could be,” Simonin-Le Meur said. “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.”

But the environmentalist finally caught a break when she was cleaning the beach of debris.

A local farmer approached her and explained that he had spotted a cavern filled with the phones while he was out exploring a set of caves that are only accessible during low tide 30 years ago.

After waiting for ocean conditions to calm, Simonin-Le Meur and a group of journalists ventured out to the cave last week, where they found more pieces of the phone scattered along its opening.

Then, once inside, the found the long lost shipping container — which, by then, was empty.

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“I saw Garfield and container pieces all over the cave. But the bulk of the phones are already gone, the sea has done its job for thirty years,” Simonin-Le Meur said, according to Le Monde. “We arrived after the battle.”

She added to the Washington Post: “We found plastic last Friday and Saturday and Sunday, and we have found a lot of pieces of Garfield. Things are just exactly the same.”

Ultimately, while they were too late to stop a majority of the devices from flooding into the ocean, Simonin-Le Meur hopes the news coverage around the plastic Garfield phones has generated interest in cleaning the oceans.

According to the Ocean Conservancy, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter oceans every year, in addition to the estimated 150 million metric tons of the material that currently circulate through aquatic habitats around the world.