May 26, 2024

A 13-year-old boy has discovered a “holy grail” Lego octopus which spilled into the sea from a shipping container in the 1990s.

The octopus is one of nearly 5m Lego pieces that fell into the sea in 1997 when a storm hit a cargo ship 20 miles off Land’s End, Cornwall. While 352,000 pairs of flippers, 97,500 scuba tanks, and 92,400 swords went overboard, the octopuses are considered the most prized finds as only 4,200 were onboard.

Liutauras Cemolonskas has collected 789 pieces of the collection over the past two years, alongside numerous fossils.

The Cornish teenager made the octopus discovery on a beach in Marazion on one of his regular trips with his parents. His father, Vytautas, 36, told the PA Media news agency: “We’ve been looking for that octopus for two years, it’s not easy to find. We were not expecting to find it at all because it’s very rare.”

Liutauras Cemolonskas, centre, with his father, Vytautas, and mother, Edita on the beach at Marazion with St Michael’s Mount in the background. Photograph: Vytautas Cemolonskas/PA

After passing on his childhood interest in archaeology to his son, the family routinely undertake beachcombing trips. Liutauras said he was “happy” to have found the rare octopus.

He said his next goal was to find one of the 33,941 dragons that went missing after the incident, in which 62 containers toppled off the ship.

Tracey Williams, a beachcomber, is behind the Lego Lost at Sea project, which has spent years trying to find the plastic pieces. She told PA a second Lego octopus was found two days after Liutauras’s discovery, in Porthleven.

“I think that’s because we had a very high spring tide coupled with strong onshore winds and when the two collide, the waves eat into the dunes that then release a lot of the plastic that has washed up,” Williams said.

“I think there’s something quite magical about the octopuses. They’re often seen as the holy grail of finds from that shipping container.”

Williams started collecting the pieces near her parents’ home shortly after the incident, but then forgot about them until she moved to Cornwall in 2010 and began finding them again.

“I found one octopus back in 1997 and I didn’t find another for 18 years,” she said.

While collecting the Legos began as “a bit of fun”, she said it gradually opened her eyes to the amount of plastic in the ocean.

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