Not long after a ship filled with millions of Legos sank off England’s coast in 1997, tiny Lego pieces began washing ashore on the beaches of Cornwall.
Now, almost 20 years later, the vintage Lego pieces are still floating back to shore, the BBC reported. The pieces, a mixture of plastic daisies, dragons, pirates and octopuses, have also reportedly shown up in Wales and Ireland.
Residents all over the world use social media to document the Lego sightings, with some collecting as many as 500.
“I’ve collected between 500 and 600 pieces over the years,” Tracey Williams, of Cornwall, said according to the West Briton newspaper. “Collectively we’ve found thousands and thousands between us- but there’s still so many more to find.”
On Feb. 13, 1997, the vessel Tokio Express was on its way to the U.S. when it was hit by a massive “once in a 100-year” wave that tilted the ship 60 degrees one way and then 40 degrees back, the BCC reported. Some 4.5 million Legos were spilled into the Atlantic Ocean.
“The mystery is where they’ve ended up,” American oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer, who’s kept track of the Lego sightings, told the BBC. “After 17 years they’ve only been definitely reported off the coast of Cornwall.”
But Williams, who started a Facebook group that tracks the Lego finds, told the BBC she was contacted by someone in Australia who found a Lego flipper they believe is from the ’97 shipwreck.
Tracey Williams holds up some of the long lost Lego pieces believed to have been spilled into the ocean during a 1997 shipwreck.
It’s possible that in the years since the shipwreck, the pieces have traveled a total of 62,000 miles from where they were spilled off Land’s End in Cornwall, according to Ebbesmeyer. Since the distance around the equator is 24,000 miles, the toys could technically be anywhere on Earth.
The discoveries could go on for hundreds of years, Ebbesmeyer said.
Williams’ said these days the rarest Legos are the octopuses and dragons, which makes them the most coveted.
“It’s quite competitive,” she told the BBC. “If you heard that your neighbor had found a green dragon, you’d want to go out and find one yourself.”