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What is it and where did it come from? Mystery object washes ashore in Warwick

Debbie Hanlon - GoConnect - 3rd Dec 2020 01_33 UTC.jpg
A giant black tank sits on the beach in the Conimicut section of Warwick. (Debbie/Chime in)

WARWICK, R.I. (WJAR) — You never know what might wash up on the beaches of Southern New England after a big storm, like a big black object with "NASA" insignias in Warwick.

WJAR viewers let us know about it that appeared after Monday's gale swept through on Conimicut Point in Warwick.

Photographic evidence shows at some point someone with a sense of humor didn't do a very good job of painting NASA logos on its sides but helped push the conjecture "out of this world."

Aime Bureau lives across the street and said storm debris is nothing new. She's seen cars, boats, even furniture wash ashore. This time, she said jokingly, "We think it's a space alien."

Close inspection shows it's plastic and can hold 1,500 gallons of potable water.

Mike Healey with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said, "We're trying to establish custody. We're trying to find out whose it is. Then, we want to figure out, does this homeowner have the means come over here and pick this thing up?"

So, while that debris is more of a curiosity this time, there have been other events with bigger environmental implications over the years.

In 1996, the tug Scandia caught fire trying from New York City to outrace a winter storm, and lost its barge the North Cape, spilling more than 800,000 gallons of home heating oil on the Ocean State's beaches.

It caused "significant environmental damage, [from] fish to marine birds," said Healey. "After that litigation, we were able to get money to help restore damaged marshlands."

In 1993, stuffed animals, sneakers, and other goods in 25 cargo containers slipped off a barge in heavy weather off Little Compton, littering the ocean and coastal areas for months.

Big and small, sometimes a mess, sometimes just for the curious -- we still don't know what was pulled from the tide water of Westerly three years ago: a big metal skeleton of something that looks like an oversized umbrella -- the vast nearby ocean will continue to offer up surprises, from those accountable, or irresponsible, or just plain questionable.

If you see something unusual, be sure to Chime in with your pictures and video.