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Home » Shipwrecks » Weird old crates keep washing up on Brazil’s oil-stained beaches.

Weird old crates keep washing up on Brazil’s oil-stained beaches.

PortandTerminal.com, October 22, 2019

Unusual oil spills have been plaguing Brazil’s northern coastline for weeks. The government says its nothing. Before that though, another mystery had been puzzling local scientists: weird old shipping crates thought to be from a German vessel that sank in 1944, had been washing up too. Is there a connection?

PRAIA BELA, BRAZIL – Between 200 and 300 mysterious, old crates have washed up on the tourist-friendly beaches of Praia Bela in Brazil since 2018.

Between 200 and 300 mysterious, old crates like this one have washed up on Brazil’s Praia Bela beach since 2018

The crates are obviously old. Academics who have been patrolling the beaches trying to discover the cause of equally mysterious oil spills that have been plaguing them lately began taking a closer look at the crates as well. Some are wondering now if there isn’t a connection between the old crates and the mysterious oil spills.

Oil spills along the coastline have been puzzling scientists in northern Brazil for weeks. Now they are also turning their attention to the weird, old crates that keep washing up and are wondering if there is a connection to be made between the two

One thing that the researchers found was that the crates carry “crude rubber in bales.” One crate was marked with “French Indochina,” the Southeast Asian colony that ceased to exist after 1954, which helps to date the crate’s age.

Brazilian researchers have found that the crates carry “crude rubber in bales”

German shipwreck the cause of both oil spill and rubber bale mystery?

Carlos Teixeira, a marine researcher from Ceara’s state university has started looking into both the oil spill mess and the weird old crate mystery and believes that there may be a connection between the two.

Teixeira found information online about the German blockade runner, SS Rio Grande. The cargo vessel was sailing from Japan to Europe in January 1944 when Allied ships intercepted and sank it off the Brazilian coast. Its cargo: crude rubber in bales. That caught Teixeira’s attention.

Another mystery crate in the water off of Brazil’s beaches

The location of the shipwreck has been known since 1996. Blue Water Recoveries found it 540 nautical miles (1,000 kilometers) off Brazil’s northeastern coast at a depth of 5,762 meters (18,904 feet). That makes it the world’s deepest shipwreck found to date.

David Mearns, seen here during an Antarctic project, heads up Blue Water Recoveries

Blue Water Recoveries sent Teixeira images of the wreck, and he identified crate-like objects similar to those that have washed ashore. Then he set out to see if such crates could have made their way to Brazil. For that, he constructed a simulation with “dots originating from the shipwreck site. These dots came to the northeastern coast. That leads me to believe that the wreck is the source of the crates.”

Teixeira further sees a connection between the crates and the oil.

“The wreck was one of the hypotheses for where the oil was coming from,” as news media had reported. “But we spoke with Petrobras (the state oil company), and they said the oil was new. If the oil came from the wreck, it’d be more than 70 years old. Also, the oil is crude, not fuel.”

So the mystery keeps getting stranger and stranger. PortandTerminal.com loves a maritime mystery like this and will keep you posted.

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