Military destroys mystery canister on beach
A paraglider’s leisurely flight high above Mangawhai’s surf beach on August 19 ended with a call out to the NZ Navy after he spotted a suspicious cylinder lying on the shores of the wildlife refuge.
After receiving an email from the glider, local Constable Dale Wewege went on a search for the container, assisted by staff and a beach vehicle form Tara Iti Golf Course.
“We took off along the dunes and located the canister which was about 60cm long and turned out to be a marine marker,” he says. “It contains the highly toxic chemical phosphorous which potentially can burn continually through the skin.”
Wewege immediately contacted the NZ Navy who dispatched officers from the military explosive unit to the sand dunes. The marker was destroyed on site.
Marine markers serve a variety of purposes including signaling surveyors or vessel locations in sea searches, wind and velocity determination as well as charting enemy submarines in antisubmarine warfare.
The markers are able to be launched by hand, aircraft or ship and can trigger both smoke and flames that lasts between 10-20 minutes before a ‘scuttling charge’ sinks the canister.
“Normally they sink straight to the ocean after being launched although this one obviously didn’t and could still have gone off if disturbed,” he says. “If anyone comes across suspicious canisters or containers along the coastline, please do not touch, just call the police.”
DANGER: Found in Mangawhai’s Wildlife Refuge; a marine smoke marker that had potential to cause serious harm if ignited.