ARANSAS, Texas – Researchers who regularly comb a 40-mile stretch of Texas beach have amassed quite the unique collection, but it’s not for the faint of heart.
“We’re actually doing scientific work, but the dolls are a perk,” Jace Tunnell, director of the Mission-Aransas Reserve at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, told McClatchy News.
Tunnell and his team have been sharing pictures of their finds on Facebook and garnering quite the following as a result.
The team has found dozens of the creepy castaways during a two-year span.
According to UPI, Tunnell’s team surveys the 40-mile swath at the reserve twice a week, and the dolls, which have adopted a creepy aesthetic after being in the water for so long, wash up fairly regularly due to a “loop current” that stretches from the Yucatan Peninsula to Florida.
The current, he said, creates eddies that wash debris toward Texas’ Gulf Coast beaches.
“Texas coastal bend beaches get 10 times the amount of trash than any other beach in the Gulf of Mexico,” Tunnell told McClatchy.
Tunnell told Southern Living magazine, however, that the dolls seem particularly drawn to the area between Padre and Matagorda islands.
“The creepiest are the ones that have lost all their hair,” he told McClatchy.
The team’s first doll, found in January 2021, was purchased by a member of the public for $35, with the proceeds donated to a sea turtle rescue program, UPI reported.
According to Southern Living, the crew is now collecting all subsequent waterlogged dolls in a bucket to be sold at the reserve’s annual fundraising auction.
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