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France Awash in Garfield


A stretch of coastline in France has reported an unusual item repeatedly washing up on its shores over the last 30 years – in the form of a famously lasagne-loving orange cat.

According to a report from the French-language, retro telephones in the shape of Garfield – the comic strip cat created in 1978 – have been found at every beach cleaning in the Iroise area of Brittany, in north-western France.

The phones are around 30 centimetres long and made of hard orange plastic, with eyelids that open and close – a popular remnant from the 1980s that have continuously washed up on the sand of the Pointe du Finistère for 30 years.

“It never stops, with each cleaning, we collect three, four phones whole or in pieces,” said [Claire Simonin] Le Meur, her organization Viltansoù was the first to report the unusual reoccurring pollution.

“The state of the phones is amazing, these objects are hard plastic and still have their paintings,” she said.

The New Zealand Herald carries the story.

“Garfield is a strong driver of interest, beach cleanups are almost like a treasure hunt, and even my kids, with whom I clean up, cannot wait to find Garfield phones,” said Le Meur.


UPDATED March 30, 2019

Solved: The Mystery of Why Garfield Phones Have Been Washing Ashore for 35 Years.

The reason was a mystery—until now. According to the BBC, anti-litter activists from France’s Ar Viltansou group recently mounted an awareness campaign drawing attention to the waste on the beaches, which sit at the Iroise Marine Nature Park.

The press caught the attention of a local farmer, René Morvan, who told Ar Viltansou president Claire Simonin-Le Meur that a raging storm in the 1980s led to a shipping container full of the phones being freed from a cargo ship. The container settled into a sea cave, where it remained mostly hidden. Morvan and his brother waded out to investigate and discovered the stash.

Acting on the information, representatives from Ar Viltansou and the Franceinfo media outlet set out to find the container during low tide, which was buried and surrounded by a number of the phones. The novelty items are said to be in incredible condition given the water and their age, with the paint mostly intact.

Mental Floss reports on the discovery.


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