Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Mystery of Garfield phones on French beaches solved after decades

Locals track down source of novelty phones based on popular cartoon cat

Garfield phones lie on a beach in Plouarzel, western France, after being collected from a sea cave by environmental activists. AFP
Garfield phones lie on a beach in Plouarzel, western France, after being collected from a sea cave by environmental activists. AFP

The mystery of why bright orange Garfield phones have been washing up on the French coast for more than 30 years has finally been solved.

Locals who have been picking the novelty landline phones, modelled on the prickly feline cartoon character, off the beaches of northern Finistere beaches had long suspected a lost shipping container was to blame.

"Our association has existed for 18 years and in that time we have found pieces of Garfield telephones almost each time we clean," said Claire Simonin, the head of local beach cleaning group Ar Viltansou in Brittany.

But it was not until a local resident revealed that he had discovered the container after a storm in the 1980s that they were finally able to locate it – wedged in a partially submerged cave only accessible at low tide.

"He told us where it was ... it was very, very dangerous," Ms Simonin said after an expedition to track it down.

"We found this incredible fissure that is 30 metres deep and at the very bottom, there were the remains of a container," she said.

"Under the boulders in front of the entrance, we found 23 complete handsets with electronics and wires. They were everywhere."

But the mystery is not fully solved.

"We have no idea what happened at the time: we do not know where it came from, what boat," said Fabien Boileau, director of the Iroise Marine Nature Park in Finistere.

"And we don't know if several containers fell into the water, or only one."

The dry-witted Garfield, first dreamed up by illustrator Jim Davis in the late 1970s, has since spawned a television show, a film series starring Bill Murray as the voice of the titular cat, and a merchandising empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Updated: March 29, 2019 09:55 AM

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