The mysterious bundles that have appeared on the beaches of Ceará, a NordEst state of Brazil, and other northeastern states come from a German ship that sank on the northeast coast in 1944. The discovery was made by researchers from the Institute of Marine Sciences (Labomar) of the Federal University of Ceará (UFC), when they studied the origin of the oil slicks that appeared on the northeast coast of Brazil in August/September 2019.
The materials are large balls of rubber, but it is not yet known what they were used for. In one of the boxes there was a metal plate with German inscriptions, which was the main clue for the discovery of the origin of the boxes. The plate was found when the team researched the leakage point that reaches beaches throughout the Northeast.
The mystery of the boxes began in October last year, after the first appearance in Alagoas. In Ceará, the bullets appeared on the beaches of Aracati, Camocim, Caucaia, São Gonçalo do Amarante, Trairi and Pecém, besides Serviluz, in Fortaleza. According to Professor Luís Ernesto Bezerra, about 200 boxes were found along the coast.
Bezerra began investigating the origin of the mysterious boxes after finding one of them in Itarema, in the interior of Ceará. [It] had an inscription belonging to French Indonesia, which became independent in 1953, so it is very old. So we started research and found confirmations of this shipwreck," she says.
(Correction: The researchers point out that the date was 1944. The error has been corrected)
According to Carlos Teixeira, Labomar’s physical oceanographer, the ship “SS Rio Grande” used a Brazilian name to disguise itself as an enemy of war and was loaded with these rubber bullets. It was sunk by the U.S. Air Force.
“We knew about the boxes, but we could never figure out where they came from. Then came the oil problem. Coincidentally or not, this oil happens at the same time of year that the boxes started appearing last year,” he says.
The relationship between the oil slick and the boxes, however, is ruled out “for now” by the researchers. That’s because the crude oil found on the beaches is relatively recent. “To have a relationship [with the bullets], the oil would have to be very old.”
The ship sank between January 1 and 4, 1944, but was not discovered until more than 50 years later, in 1996, about a thousand kilometers off the coast. Carlos Teixeira then began a simulation work to confirm that the boxes could reach the northeast coast and got the confirmation on Wednesday: "We are 99% sure of this origin.
Professor Luís Ernesto Bezerra explains why the rubber bullets have started to appear recently. “The wrecked ships start to suffer from corrosion, so that decades later they start to lose their cargo. And because it happened in the Atlantic Ocean, near the northeast, they [the bullets] got here,” he says.
admin note: I have seen myself these objets on the NordEst coast of Brazil in september 2019