Mysterious World War II Ship Boxes Appear in the Northeast

In January 1944, a German World War II ship wrecked near Brazil. Only 50 years later, in 1996, it was found about 1, 000 kilometers from the coast. No one would imagine, however, that this was the origin of mysterious boxes that recently appeared on beaches of Ceará and other regions of the Northeast.

The history of these boxes began in October 2018, when the first of many appeared in Alagoas. After that, a number of boxes began to appear on other beaches, accounting for about 200 units so far.

The event gained more visibility from studies on oil slicks that affected the Northeast seas. A group of researchers from the Institute of Sea Sciences (Labomar) of the Federal University of Ceará (UFC) eventually discovered new information about the boxes while doing oil analysis.

(Source: José Cláudio de Araújo / Press Release)

New pieces for the puzzle

The materials found are large rubber bales, but it is not yet known what they were used for. In one of the boxes was a metal plate inscribed in German, an important clue to the origin of these objects.

Professor Luis Ernesto Bezerra became interested in the puzzle of the boxes after finding one of them in Itarema, Ceará countryside. "[She] had an inscription belonging to French Indonesia, which became independent in 1953, that is, it is very old. So we started research and found confirmation of this wreck, " he says.

According to Labomar physical oceanographer Carlos Teixeira, the ship "SS Rio Grande" used a Brazilian name to disguise itself as war enemies and was loaded with such rubber bales. Upon being discovered, it was sunk by US air forces. Check out the video at this link.

Professor Ernesto Bezerra helps us understand why the bales began to appear now, so many decades after the wreck. "Shipwrecks start to corrode, so, decades later, they begin to leak their cargo. And because it happened in the Atlantic Ocean near the Northeast, they [the boxes] got here, " he says.

And the oil stains?

"We knew about the boxes, but we had never been able to figure out where they came from. Then came the problem of the oil. Coincidentally or not, the occurrence of this oil is happening at the same time of the year that the boxes began to appear in the year. past, "says Carlos Teixeira.

According to the researchers, no evidence has yet been found that links the oil spill and the boxes, especially since the oil found on the beaches that was analyzed is recent. "To be related [to the boxes], the oil would have to be very old, " explains the oceanographer.