Mystery Over Latex Blocks Washed Up From Spain To Sweden

rubber block shipwreckScilly’s shipwreck experts say there’s no obvious local wreck that could be the source of a mysterious material washing up on beaches across Europe.

Large blocks of a latex rubber material known as gutta percha were first found in Newquay two years ago.

Social media is being used to share sightings and suggestions about the source.

The blocks are labelled as Tjipetir, an Indonesian rubber plantation that closed before World War 2.

A French filmmaker has made a documentary about the material, which has been washed up on beaches from Spain to Sweden.

Yesterday The Times reported a theory that they could originate from a ship that sank here in Scilly a century ago.

But neither of our islands-based shipwreck experts, wreck hunter Todd Stevens or marine archaeologist Richard Larn are aware of a vessel carrying such a cargo.

Richard says there are plenty of potential shipwrecks ten or more miles off the islands that would have carried dozens of different items, but without a ship’s manifest it is hard to narrow down a search.

A Facebook page is now being used to track where the blocks wash ashore and over fifty people have been pictured holding their beach finds.

There’s also social media interest in where five million pieces of Lego have landed after 62 containers were washed overboard from the Tokio Express, 20 miles west of Land’s End in 1997.

A Facebook page tracking where the pieces have washed up recorded their first Scilly sighting last month, when Emma Bagnall-Oakeley reported finding plastic Lego flowers at Appletree on Tresco.