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Washed up Garfield phones mystery solved by French farmer after 35 years

Since the 1980s, the novelty orange cartoon cat phones have been washing up on Brittany's Iroise coast. Credit: Martine Dominque/Patrick Sanchez

For 35 years fragments of novelty phones in the shape of Garfield have been washing up on a French coastline, much to the bemusement of locals.

Residents of Brittany's Iroise coast had been left scratching their heads after countless bits of plastic, including eyes, tails and feet of the cartoon cat had been appearing on their local beach since the 1980s.

The saga even led to campaigners from the Ar Vilantsou anti-pollution group to feature the cartoon cat in an environmental campaign last year.

But now the source of the plastic phone problem has been found - a lost shipping container.

Garfield's eyes open when the phone is picked up, and thousands of the product were made more than 35 years ago. Credit: Claire Simonin/ Ar Viltansoù

Garfield's eyes open when the phone is picked up, and thousands of the product were made more than 35 years ago.

But the mystery was finally solved earlier this week when a local farmer tipped off volunteers from the anti-pollution group Ar Viltansoù as to where and what the source might be.

The farmer, René Morvan, remembered finding some when he was about 19 years old.

"You had to really know the area well," he told Franceinfo.

Inside the rock layers, they found orange plastic poking out from beneath the rocks. Credit: Patrick Sanchez

Mr Morvan added: "We found a container that was stranded ... it was open - a lot of things were gone, but there was a stock of phones."

The volunteers took advantage of a low tide and were finally able to locate the lost shipping container, in a secluded sea cave.

Climbing down rocks covered with seaweed they spotted pieces of the damaged container's shell and, wedged between some rocks, Garfield phones.

"The mystery is solved, we found our treasure," said Dominique, a volunteer with Ar Vilantsou.

Garfield-themed plastic phones were hugely popular at the time and were sold by the thousands. Credit: Claire Simonin/ Ar Viltansoù

Claire Simonin, director of Ar Viltansoù, said: "This is the first time in our lives that we've seen that."

She added: "There are 30-year-old plastic stuff that are still here, and in very good condition, even if they have polluted the sea during all this time."

She said the environmental group were going to double their efforts to clean up wires and handsets.

However the Garfield plastic saga may not be over just yet.

Ms Simonin added there may be more than one container which fell into the sea, when you take into account water currents and locations of the plastic fragments.