May 5 (UPI) --
A mysterious disc-shaped object that washed up on a Florida beach was identified as a fish aggregation device that may have crossed the ocean from West Africa.
The non-profit Friends of Palm Beach, which regularly holds clean-up events on Palm Beach County beaches, said a resident walking the shoreline found the man-sized disc and took photos in the hopes of identifying the object.
The man sent a photo to Friends of Palm Beach founder Diane Buhler, who determined it was a fish aggregation device, a type of apparatus commonly used to attract tuna in waters off the West African coast.
"The plastic would take forever to break down, but it does gather all the goodies, like barnacles, that attract the fish," Buhler told The Palm Beach Post.
David Kerstetter, an associate professor with Nova Southeastern University's Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences who works with the Caribbean FAD Tracking Project, examined the device and found it was outfitted with a buoy and a GPS tracker to allow fishermen to find it in the water.
Kerstetter said the discovery will help the project with their work in analyzing the environmental impact of such devices.