18 February 1998
Blackpool sheep-dropping mystery unsolved

By Boyd Champness

THE case of the mystery sheep droppings which sometimes wash up on Blackpools beaches is yet to be solved by the Environment Agency.

In a bid to track down where the droppings had come from, the agency painted 600 cucumbers in bright colours and then set them free in the Irish Sea last September, from six sites around the Ribble and Wyre estuaries and in Liverpool Bay.

The agency chose those sites because it was thought that sheep grazing alongside the Ribble Estuary were to blame. But they were soon let off the hook when only one cucumber made it as far as Blackpool.

A total of 112 cucumbers were recovered. All “baa” one were found washed up close to where they had been launched.

Mike Weston, scientist in charge of the project, said cucumbers were used because they float to the surface and are carried by tides rather than wind. They are also tough enough to withstand some time at sea.

The agency now thinks the culprits could be sheep from further afield. The investigation continues.