CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A family from San Antonio took a trip to Port Aransas and found what they thought to be treasure that washed up on the beach.
When the family discovered the rubber bale that washed up on the shore, they immediately began to inspect it.
"It was gross. I thought it was a body part," said beachgoer Patricia Saenz.
Another family member said they could tell the bale was far from new, as it had visible signs of aging.
"It had, you know, algae growing on it and onshore wind barnacles and clams, and it stunk," said beachgoer Amanda Ward.
After examining the bale, the family proceeded to dig into the structure with their bare hands. With adrenaline running high, the family's imagination was at its peak as they tore into the weathered down bale.
"Maybe it's pirate treasure. But I wasn't gonna touch a cursed pirate treasure," Ward said.
Ward added that the family was prepared to take possession of whatever was inside, agreeing to split the contents.
"And at that point, they're totally invested. They're like, we're getting this open," Saenz said. "One of them keeps asking us 'if it's money, we get to keep it right?' We'll say, well, I'll split it. And we're like, 'yeah, for sure, open the box!' "
Once they got close to the core of the bale, the family realized that their search may have been in vain.
"It's just more layers of that stuff," Ward. "So we're all just kind of like, okay, it's not treasure. We're not rich. It's super weird."
Kelly Taylor with the Padre Island National Seashore confirmed that the bale the family discovered belonged to the SS Rio Grande, a German blockade runner, which was carrying tin, copper, cobalt and crude rubber bales when it sank in 1944.
"It is a piece of history," Taylor said. "You know this ship was sunk by American warships during World War II. So that's pretty amazing."
Taylor warns that if you come across more rubber bales to use extreme caution.
"We don't encourage people to touch them until they are confident it isn't something else that might be hazardous. But that stickiness of that bale that is a natural latex rubber," Taylor said.
Video of the family discovering the rubber bale has 2.8 million views on TikTok.
If you find anything suspicious on the beach, it is best to stay away from it and call authorities. If you find anything on the Padre Island National Seashore, you're asked to call 361-949-8068 or send an email to PAIS_visitor_center@NPS.gov.
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