Another mystery object thread - foam with spheres washed up on beach

Any ideas what this might be?

The article is in German. Google Translate below:

*On the beach of Cape Arkona a mysterious object was found. Police, Environmental Agency, navigators and industry experts tried to fathom its origins.

Was the lump dumped by a ship? Did an action artist transport him to the Baltic Sea shore? Or did he possibly fall from the entrance flap a UFO flying over the island of Rügen down to earth? The lump discovered on the block beach in front of Fernlüttkevitz on Cape Arkona gives rise to many puzzles.

The object with a diameter of more than one meter was found by Wiebke Dresel from Putbus on a beach walk. She contacted the Water Police and the Nature Conservation Union and hoped for answers. However, the Sassnitz officials can not give them today. “We are completely over-questioned,” says the head of the water police in the port city, Alexander Diekmann. "We have never had such a thing. I talked to older colleagues who have been with us for a long time. But even that is something that has not been accommodated. The thing was really very mysterious. "The State Office for Agriculture and Environment (Stalu) had been informed as well as the office North Rügen.

Three question marks
There, of course, interested in the Fund, his took on, however, for the sake of completeness, the Environmental Office of the district Vorpommern-Rügen. “Of course, we first wanted to find out what it was all about,” describes soil conservation officer Andreas Gräulich the beginning of research. "We interviewed old sailors, talked to colleagues from other parts of the Baltic Sea, called an engineering office, identified a manufacturer of such brown bullets, and consulted the environmental group of the Altenkirchen school. Nobody had a suitable answer. There remain three big question marks. "But the white mass in which the bullets were could not be clearly assigned. “Somehow styrofoam or polystyrene,” says Gräulich. “A kind of glue mixture that was pretty light”,

Dangerous chunk?
The employees of the circular environmental office, however, had an elementary question to clarify despite all their desire to search for clues: is there a danger of the chunk? “We finally came to the conclusion that this is not the case,” says Andreas Gräulich. “We estimated that it was normal waste that did not contain any toxins.” Also, the contents of the bullets, which released something like a styrofoam after breaking two plastic jackets, had been harmless. “So we arranged for the removal of the object at the end of last week.”
The Brocken from Cape Arkona remains a mystery even after its disposal. Neither the white mass nor the brown spheres could really be explained.
That turned out to be more difficult than initially thought. Although the white mass itself was light and buoyant, the object had a rather high total weight, mainly because of the brown bullets. In laborious detail work, the chunk was crumbled and transported in buckets on a disposal vehicle. Already the students of the Altenkirchener environmental project had undertaken the first eviction attempts, which run regularly the beaches, in order to eliminate driven garbage. They had not come very far because of the heavy weight of the object. Luckily, as Ute Fährmann finds. “You meant it well,” she says. "However, they should have informed us in this case first. As it turned out, we were dealing with a really mysterious find here. "

However, the foundling was not disposed of. “We have some leftovers left,” says Andreas Gräulich. Also, because one hopes for a similar kind of find in the future then still answers. And what about greetings from space? “We had already made jokes about the brown bullets,” says Gräulich. “What would have happened if we had come to our office the next morning, and little aliens had been sitting around there?”*

As far as I can tell, the white stuff is some sort of styrofoam type of material, and the brown spheres are heavier, maybe plastic, but also filled with foam.

Some kind of packing material from a shipping container? Some sort of hull liner / insulation from a ship? Some sort of structural material from a building that was hit by a tsunami or storm?

The brown spheres are hard to explain.

If they start to hatch, RUN!!

The spheres are a aggregate material that takes up most of the volume…of whatever volume is needed for insulation or flotation…so that much less liquid foam needs to be used.

Pour in the spheres, pour in a fraction of liquid foam, the foam sets up, and you’re ready to go.

Except the OP’s “dangerous chunk” paragraph suggests that the spheres themselves also contain styrofoam.

The photo in the article appears to show several broken spheres, with their foam interiors visible.

Horta eggs. Whatever you do, don’t harm them!


Guessing (without evidence) it is the buoyancy mass from the inside of a buoy, released after the rest of it broke off and sunk.

A buoy was my first thought, but several people with experience of the sea were unable to recognize it.

Its a type of Syntactic foam. cite :

More specifically it is likely to be a kind of Macro Syntactic foam used for buoyancy control

Sea people would have experience with the exterior of a buoy, but maybe not the innards? And I always thought they’d be hollow (the one Mike Rowe had to clean out was). Makes sense to stuff 'em though, so they don’t spring a leak and sink.

Lots of composite materials have aggretates which take up the bulk of the composite.

Concrete has rocks and stones…already stout hardness…taking up the bulk of the volume of a cement pour.

I remember an episode of This Old House where an architectual restorer was preserving a section of ornate wood trim suffering dry rot by scraping out the rot, applying a surface layer of plaster, inserting a solid piece of wood to take up the bulk of the volume, and finishing with a top layer of plaster to be sanded down and painted.

I figured, this composite foam is poured into any volume of a structure exposed to a hostile environment…an environment liable to breech a containment surface, rendering a mere hollow void useless…like a bouy in the salty water filled with icebergs of the Baltic Sea.
The Baltic gets icy in winter, yes?

That looks to be exactly what it is, thanks.

Ich verstand kein verdammtes, was ich las.

The mystery seems to have been solved:

Bits of a marine buoy that broke off as it was being laid.

This sounds vaguely dirty.

The close-up photo of “der klumpens” (love that :D) definitely shows the spheres are filled with foam. If there’s foam inside the spheres and outside the spheres, what was the point of the spheres?:confused:

From a link at the bottom of the article (“Mysterious find on Rügen - OZ reveals the secret of the lump”):

Just throwing this out there, but either there’s something problematic about injection molding / curing large one-piece foam structures, or the spheres have different mechanical properties than the binder.

Indeed…spheres with a hard, smooth surface probably slide around past each other during a pour to effectively fill a volume to be styrofoamed.