Another mysterious WWII-era object was found washed up on a Texas beach

Rubber bale from sunken German warship washes up on Mustang Island State Park

Rubber bale from WWII (KSAT 12)

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Another one of those mysterious WWII-era objects washed up on a Texas beach recently.

Officials with Mustang Island State Park shared a video of a park ranger standing on a shore full of seaweed Wednesday, but it’s what he shows off at the end of the clip that has people talking.

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“It’s a bale of rubber that washed up from a German cargo ship that sunk in 1944 off the coast of Brazil,” said the park ranger, who identified himself only as Eric. “This is just a bale of rubber... and it washed up here 70-something years later.”

In April 2022, a family vacationing at Port Aransas Beach also found one of the rubber bales.

“We thought it was a rock at first but my mother-in-law said it looked like it had skin on it,” Amanda Ward previously told KSAT “We went close to it and sure enough it had layers and layers of a stretchy tan-colored material wrapped around it. There were barnacles and clams and algae growing on the box as well.”

Ward’s sister-in-law posted the mystery box to TikTok in an effort to figure out what it was.

“We were widely speculating what was in it. Treasure, jewels, maybe even a lost Amazon package,” Ward said. “Finally someone came by with a knife after a bit of a crowd had gathered. We cut right through the middle of the box to find that it was just layers and layers of this rubbery latex-like material.”

According to a Facebook post from Padre Island National Seashore, the rubber bales started washing up on beaches in Texas and Florida in 2020. Before that, they were mostly seen on beaches in Brazil.

Rubber bales like this one started washing up on Texas and Florida beaches in 2020, but before that, they were washing...

Posted by Padre Island National Seashore on Wednesday, March 30, 2022

“In January 1944, the SS Rio Grande, a German blockade runner, was carrying tin, copper, cobalt and crude rubber bales when she was spotted by the USS Omaha (a cruiser) and USS Jouett (a destroyer) off the coast of Brazil,” the PINS post states. “Realizing that they had been spotted, the crew of the Rio Grande abandoned the ship and its cargo after purposely trying to sink (ie scuttle) it. The Omaha and Jouett fired on the Rio Grande until it sank, sending all its cargo to the ocean bottom where it was resting until recently.”

A Marine Environmental Research report notes that some of the bales that washed up in Brazil were stamped with “Product of French Indochina,” further proof that the bales came from the sunken ship.

“The region was a large producer of rubber, especially during WWII. French Indochina was dominated by the Japanese during WWII, which resulted in cargoes of natural crude rubber being carried by German ships,” the report states.

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