Sponge-Like Debris Is Washing Up on France’s Beaches, and No One Knows What It Is

iStock
iStock

The shores of northern France are normally a picturesque spot for a barefoot stroll. That was until mid-July of this year, when walking down the beach without stepping on a spongy, yellow blob became impossible. As Gizmodo reports, foam-like objects washed up by the tide have covered close to 20 miles of French coastline over the course of a few days.

Unlike the boulder-sized "fatbergs" sometimes found on the beaches of Britain or the snowballs that crowded Siberian beaches last November, the spongy invasion has no known source. Experts have ruled out both organic sponges found in the ocean and polyurethane foam made by people. Jonathan Hénicart, president of Sea-Mer, a French nonprofit that fights beach pollution, told La Voix du Nord, "When you touch it, it's a bit greasy. It's brittle but not easily crumbled. It has no specific odor […] We do not know if it's toxic [so] it should not be touched."

The northern coast of France borders the English Channel, a waterway that welcomes hundreds of commercial ships every day. Strange cargo is constantly falling overboard and washing up on shore. Since the sponges resemble nothing found in nature or an artificial material that's commonly known, it's possible they're a combination of both. They could be a type of foam, for instance, made out of seawater and air bound together with a substance like soap or fertilizer.

Experts won't be able to verify what the mess is made of until the Cedre Association, an organization that studies hydrocarbon pollution, analyzes samples collected from the beach. That process should take about a week. In the meantime, French officials are working to clear the coastline while assuring the public the phenomenon doesn't pose a threat to their health. Nonetheless, beachgoers in northern France should think twice before kicking off their flip-flops.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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Profane Polly: Expletive-Spewing Parrots Have Been Removed From an England Zoo

"F*ck off!"
"F*ck off!"
AndreaLynnStocker/iStock via Getty Images

In any business, it’s important to make customers feel welcome. Having employees or representatives immediately begin launching expletives and insults, for example, would offend patrons and lead to mixed or negative online reviews.

That’s likely one reason Lincolnshire Wildlife Park, a zoo in eastern England, opted to remove five parrots from the main park after the birds greeted visitors by telling them to “f*ck off.”

According to CNN, the avian agitators were recently donated to the park by five different owners and immediately made their temperaments known. The African grey parrots labeled one employee “fat” and launched other insults whenever staff or guests would walk by their enclosure.

While some guests enjoyed the profane banter, their laughter only encouraged the parrots to continue swearing. Park officials worried that visitors would be bothered by the four-letter-filled ranting and decided to remove the birds from public display.

The birds haven’t been kicked out of the park entirely. Employees are hoping a cooling-down period might help the parrots adjust. But being with other birds could also provide them with an opportunity to become a bad influence.

Steve Nichols, chief executive of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Park, told the BBC that he's "hoping" the birds will learn more appropriate words, "but if they teach the others bad language and I end up with 250 swearing birds, I don't know what we'll do."

[h/t CNN]