For more than 30 years, pieces of Garfield phones kept washing on shore on beaches in northwestern France, and nobody knew why. Where did the lasagne-loving cartoon cat come from?
The mystery would puzzle the locals for years. His plastic parts, which first appeared in a crack of Brittany coast in the mid-1980s, held back no matter how many times beach cleaners got them. Sometimes they will only find their lazy bulging eyes, or just his slick face or his entire fat cat body always spread in the sand in a very Garfield way.
From the stray curly wires and occasional dial pad, it was clear that the pieces came from the once popular Garfield phone, made by Tyco in the early 1
She had been searching for Garfield's origins for years, she said without worrying about the damage the plastic phones could make to the sea – and this month after a chance on the beach, she was getting some answers.
Simonin-Le Meur said the common belief among the locals was that the phones came from a colorless shipping container that should have sunk to the bottom of the sea leaving the environment to fear Garfield's plastic toxicity would continue to pollute the sea indefinitely. In 2018 alone, at least 200 pieces of Garfield had been found on beaches in Northwest France, France Info reported.
If they could just save the long lost shipping container, Simonin-Le Meur said maybe Garfield would stop coming.  "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 also get many submarines in the area – it's a military area. But they said it wasn't possible that the container could be there and nobody So. "
This year, however, something changed. Simonin-Le Meur got a tip.
It came from a local farmer named René Morvan.
All of France's recent mention of the bizarre phenomenon and its environmental impact had apparently triggered his memory. One day last month, Simonin-Le Meur said she met Morvan on the beach while cleaning up waste – including a Garfield section.
"Looking for Garfield?" asked baskets.
Simonin-Le Meur said yes she was – she was always.
"Come with me," said the man to her. "I can show you."
Morvan started from the beginning. Back when he was 19 or 20 years old in the mid-1980s, he told her that a storm was blowing through the area – and before the residents knew it, the Garfield phones were scattered all over the beach, like Simonin-Le. Meur had always been told. He and his brother were curious, said Morvan, and they decided to look to travel around the rocky shoreline until they found what they were looking for.
Wedged inside a cave, hidden in the sea cliffs, it was: a metal cargo container – and a cache of Garfield phones, Morvan claims he saw.
The story hit Simonin-Le Meur as too good to be true. The tide was too high to bring her to the cave that day, understood Morvan, and then had to wait to find out if he told the truth. The freight container that Morvan told her was so deeply embedded in the cave that it was almost submerged, making the trip a dangerous expedition.
But last week it was safe. The tide was low. And Morvan, Simonin-Le Meur, eventually said not to laugh.
The film on the discovery, a group of journalists and environmentalists, included Simonin-Le Meur, climbed onto the rocky beach to the narrow opening of the cave and found a bright orange telephone line along the way. Garfield was scattered all over, like on the beach.
But when the group entered the cave, ready for the great revelation, they did not find what they had expected. It was clear that the plastic cats were there, said Simonin-Le Meur, but even more clearly that most were already gone.
"Our concern was to understand why we had so many Garfields everywhere. We thought it would be useful to find the container so we can stop it. But unfortunately that was not the case," Simonin-Le Meur said. "What we found was the rest of the shipping container and it was empty."
It seemed that the group had solved the mystery, she said, but not the problem.
"Téléphone Garfield", as it is known in an online catalog for ubiquitous marine waste, is only a plastic object among countless others throwing the sea and coast every year. In the northwestern region, the Garfield phone has become like an ignorant Smokey Bear, the mascot of the importance of ocean cleansing and the dangers of microplasty that pollute the ocean. Lionel Lucas, who developed the online Ocean Plastic Tracker cataloging discovery of Garfield, told Franceinfo, the Garfield phone was a "symbol" for the movement.
"It's no longer garbage, but evidence," Lucas said.
Simonin -Le Meur said she's been trying to use Garfield, especially as a way to interest children in marine pollution, as it's okay compared to pieces of plastic waste. And while the recent alleged discovery of Garfield's origins has drawn renewed interest, Simonin-Le Meur said the discovery did not change much.
"We found plastic on Friday and Saturday and Sunday, and we found a lot of Garfield," she said. "Things are just exactly the same."