All through the spring, the nation has been mesmerized by ghoulish, barnacle-encrusted, toy dolls that have been washing up on Texas beaches and collected by scholars at Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, who dutifully catalogue their seashore finds on the institute’s Facebook page.
The first artifact preserved for posterity by Mission-Aransas—a federal and state conservancy partnership that conducts research, education, and stewardship programs administered through the University of Texas—was a disembodied doll’s head that washed up in January, 2021, KXAN reports.
The grisly plaything, its mouth agape and filled with detritus, its one dead eye staring at the sea, was dubbed “craziest #beach find of all time!” by researchers.
The Reserve, situated on the Gulf Coast about 30 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, surveys a roughly 40-mile stretch of beach running from north Padre Island, up to Matagorda Island—an area the dolls seem to be drawn to, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
“We’re actually doing scientific work, but the dolls are a perk,” Mission-Aransas director Jace Tunnell told McClatchy News. “Every day is something new. Just when you think you’ve found everything that could possibly wash up on shore, something else comes up.”
The marine educators say they’ve collected more than 30 of the hellish creations so far.
“The creepiest are the ones that have lost all their hair,” Tunnell said.
Not all the gruesome booty served up by the sea are forsaken childhood treasures, however.
“The first one we had found was a sex doll, the head of it. I posted a picture of it and I didn’t realize that’s what it was,” Tunnell recalls. “We got a lot of followers on the page after that.”
Someone recently purchased that particular gem for $35, giving the money to a Mission sea turtle program, and other people have been bidding on the grim bounty ever since.
“What are they doing with those things?” Tunnell asks.
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