The oceans bring us many gifts. Some of them are more like white elephant gifts, though. The items in this slideshow are all real, and all washed up on a beach somewhere in the world, much to the delight, confusion or horror of the people who found them. Some of them are hilarious, some of them are completely bizarre and others are downright frightening.
Back in 2012, a giant eyeball washed up on a beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. People thought it surely belonged to some sea monster. Maybe a giant squid. When it was analyzed, though, the eyeball turned out to be from a swordfish. An extremely large one.
To the uneducated eye, this just looks like a rock. It's actually extraordinarily valuable. It's a hunk of material called "ambergris," a substance that is, essentially, whale vomit. Ambergris is a hardened secretion that is formed in sperm whale intestines. Ambergris chunks are usually found floating on the ocean's surface in tropical waters. This one was found on a beach by a dog walker, who sold it at auction for $16,253. Why would someone want it? Because it's used to make perfume. Retch.
Back in 2015, unusually high amounts of ice in Massachusetts Bay resulted in human-sized icebergs washing up on the beaches of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It was an extremely rare occurrence, and certainly one that won't be soon forgotten by the people who saw it.
Take one sea animal. Add saltwater, sun, air and time, and you get something out of a horror movie. This...thing...washed up on a beach in Scotland. A couple out for a wee stroll happened upon it, probably ruining the mood a bit. Most likely, it's the corpse of a pilot whale. Many people still insist it's a legitimate sea monster, though.
Tracey White Kirouac
This stack of rocks, inscribed with messages expressing people's hopes and dreams, was found on an Oakville, Ontario beach. People wrote inscriptions to loved ones, plans for the future, or simple little poems on the stones, all stacked on one spot.
Wales News Service
These kids found what they thought was an old buoy half-buried on the beach. Can you guess what it actually is? Yep, try not to let your throat close up as you realize these two children are standing right next to an unexploded sea mine from WWII.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 crash deposited a lot of debris into the ocean. This hunk of hull washed up on a beach of Elbow Bay in the Bahamas. Are you still looking for shells while you walk on the beach? Step your game up, look for pieces of spaceships.
Someone found this blobby thing on a beach in California, wondering what it was. Can you guess? Nope, it's not a gelatinized brain. It's actually a living thing. They're called "sea hares," and are very large sea slugs. They do have a tendency to shoot ink, making holding them a risky proposition.
The Megalodon was the largest shark to ever exist. All that remains of them are their enormous, fossilized teeth, that are still occasionally found around the world. This one washed up on a North Carolina beach. Judging by the tooth, the shark that owned it was probably around sixty feet long. Quite a find.
Los Angeles Times
This is a specimen of the rare oarfish, a very large, very rare deepwater fish that occasionally washes up on the California coast. This one was fifteen feet long and weighed about two hundred pounds. It was found on one of the beaches of Santa Catalina Island, off the coast between San Diego and Los Angeles.
Imagine owning a ring that looks like this, and then losing it at the beach. Then imagine having even a shred of hope that it would be returned to you if someone found it. Well, that's exactly what happened. Some saintly person posted the ring to a ring finder website, and it was shortly back on its original owner's finger. Her precious.
If you find a spooky kangaroo mouse thing on the beach, you don't want to find it standing erect. Hopefully, the photographer didn't actually touch it, because it's a virtual guarantee to invoke some kind of curse, or summon a demon.
Somewhere out there, right now, hundreds or thousands of rubber ducks are afloat on the world's oceans. They all originate from a shipping crate that fell overboard in 1992. The ducks, called "floatees" by enthusiasts, are still washing up on beaches in multiple countries. Sometimes in large numbers.
In 2015, balls and clumps of mysterious black tar started washing up on Manhattan Beach, near Los Angeles. The beaches were closed for a while while experts tried to figure out where the tar was coming from. Analysis linked it to the Refugio oil spill.
This is the Navagio, which a storm deposited on a beach in Navagio Bay, Greece in the eighties. The ship, built in 1937, was smuggling cigarettes and being pursued by the Greek Navy. Now, it's one of the area's biggest tourist attractions.
A lifestyle blogger named Kaylah Doogan made this collage of objects she found on the beach. Taken individually, there's nothing that interesting here. But taken in aggregate, it's impressive that something so aesthetically pleasing can be made from trash.
At first glance, these might look like some kind of weird beetle. They're actually egg cases from skates, a kind of fish that's closely related to sharks and rays. These egg sacs are colloquially known as "mermaid purses." Some sharks also reproduce in this manner, while others give live birth.
Somebody dropped this mechanical, prosthetic hand. It was found on a beach of Staten Island, New York. It must have been very disconcerting, just for a moment, wondering if Terminators were real. And aquatic.
New Jersey State Museum
Finding arrowheads and spearheads isn't actually that uncommon, depending upon where you are. This ancient spearhead, however, was an extremely rare find. It has been dated to somewhere between ten and eleven thousand years old. It was discovered on a beach in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.
Waterford in Your Pocket
This Canadian coast guard helmet somehow wound up on a beach in Ireland, and was discovered by a man out for a walk. They posted it to Facebook, and the Canadian coast guard saw it. It looks like it got a bit of a makeover on its trip across the Atlantic.
It is not normal to find a seahorse on the beach. Shells, sand dollars, yes. Seahorses, no. This one must have washed up during a storm. Hopefully it survived.
These are Velella, or "sea rafts," a kind of jelly. Somewhere around one billion of them washed up on west coast beaches in 2015. It was a dramatic event, but one that's not actually that unusual. According to one marine biologist such events occur about once every three to six years.
Some very old sea turtles were found washed up on Long Beach, Washington. They had hypothermia and were on the verge of death. They were transported to the Newport Aquarium, where they were nursed back to good health.
Huntington Beach Surfrider Foundation
This dramatically colored snake, a yellow-bellied sea snake, was found washed up on Huntington Beach in California. The snake was dead, but if it hadn't been, it would have posed a potential safety threat. Live specimens carry a venom strong enough to leave an adult paralyzed.
Twitter - @egoleonard
Occasionally, an enormous Lego figure will be discovered lying on a beach, somewhere in the world. The figures are credited to an artist going by the name "Ego Leonard." Not much is known about Ego Leonard. Just that his work is extremely strange.
It is, unfortunately, relatively commonplace to find severed human feet washed up on beaches around the world. It's not (just) Mafia hits - when someone dies in the ocean, their feet are made buoyant by the shoes strapped to them. Up they float, away to a beach, to ruin someone's month.
The U-Boat SM U-118 washed ashore at Hastings. People tried to dispose of it by destroying it with the guns of a French destroyer, and setting it afloat, but these efforts were unsuccessful.
In what must have been a very bizarre sequence of events, someone spotted what they thought was a human body floating in the waves. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a life-size model of E.T. It was somehow returned to its original owner, slightly saltier.
A Japanese man was crestfallen when his prized Harley-Davidson was swept out to sea during the 2011 tsunami. Somehow, the motorcycle was carried all the way to a beach in British Columbia. He must have been overjoyed.
ABC 13 Eyewitness News
It's not just SpaceX debris that winds up on beaches, it's real spacecraft as well. This hunk of an International Space Station resupply rocket was found washed up three thousand miles from where it was originally launched in French Guinea.
Twitter - @MeredithJM
This piano turned up on a beach underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. It looked like it had not been damaged, and was still all in one piece. Unfortunately, it no longer played. Nobody has any idea who originally owned it or how it wound up on the beach.
Unexploded WWII bombs still wash up on beaches from time to time. About a hundred of them washed ashore recently at Calshot Beach in Hampshire, UK. They had to be removed from the beach and gingerly transported to somewhere it would be safe to explode them.
Six crates of bananas fell overboard on a trip from Cuba back in 2007. They made an extremely long journey, all the way to the island of Terschelling in the Netherlands. They look like they were still edible, though we wouldn't want to be the ones to try.
A huge shipping container full of bags of Doritos washed up on a beach in North Carolina. Sure, it was an eyesore. But it was significantly faster to clean up than other kinds of spills. Not difficult to recruit volunteers to help with this one.
There's just something about beaches that attracts large explosive devices. Like this training mine that was lost by the US Navy. They showed up to remove it and transport it somewhere. Training exercise: failed.
This big yacht was found tossing and turning in the waves of Palm Beach back in 2016. This may shock you, but the owner was allegedly yachting while intoxicated. Don't drink and yacht, guys.
Twitter - @siberian_times
In 2016, a Siberian beach became blanketed in large, naturally formed snowballs. It was the result of an exceptionally rare set of circumstances that caused pieces of ice to be rolled and polished by the elements, resulting in "snowballs" that ranged in size from tennis ball to three-foot diameter.
An Australian teenager in Darwin found an antique swivel gun sitting on a beach during low tide. The gun wound up belonging to the Portugese, and is of critical historical significance. It may indicate that the Portugese visited Australia.
This one definitely made the rounds when the photo was originally published. What appears to confront us is some kind of unknown, mammalian monster. People compared it to the mythical creature El Chupacabras. Turns out it was just an opossum that had been warped by the elements.
For some reason, Terschelling seems to attract strange things to its beaches. Like a load of sneakers that fell off a cargo ship during a storm. Thankfully, these shoes did not contain human feet.
This is the most famous of the "globsters," masses of unidentified animal flesh that wash up on beaches. The "St. Augustine Monster" was discovered in 1896, on Anastasia Island, Florida. The local naturalist-in-chief, Dr. De Witt Webb, labeled it a giant octopus. A claim that wasn't conclusively debunked until 2004, when it was proven to be a whale carcass.