A woman has been reunited with a mixtape cassette she lost on holiday, after it washed up on a Spanish beach more than 20 years later.
In the 1990s, Stella Wedell was vacationing in Empuriabrava, Spain and on the Spanish island of Mallorca when a mixtape she had created – featuring songs by Shaggy and Bob Marley and the Wailers, as well as several Disney numbers – went missing.
Wedell presumed the tape was lost forever, but years later, she spotted what she believed to be her tape on display in the Fotografiska gallery in Stockholm, Sweden.
The tape washed up in 2017 on the beach at Playa de Barlovento de Jandía on Fuerteventura – a Spanish island off the coast of Africa – and was found by British artist and photographer Mandy Barker, who had been documenting plastic pollution as part of her artwork for years.
“I thought at the time it would be amazing if it played, but I never thought it would!” Barker told CNN.
Barker sent the tape to a professional audio restorer and, to her surprise, eventually managed to listen to all of the songs. Barker included the tape alongside the track listing in her traveling exhibition “Sea of Artifacts.”
Wedell emailed Barker in 2019 – days after she had visited Barker’s Stockholm exhibition – to tell her that she thought the tape was the very one she had lost when she was 12 years old.
Barker told CNN that Wedell was convinced the tape was the one she had lost because of the order of the songs.
“When I was reading the tracklist it seemed very familiar to me,” Wedell said in a statement.
“So I took a picture of it and compared it with the original CD from 1993 which I still have – and it was exactly the same tracklist, but starting with track three,” she said.
Wedell told Barker that she had excluded the first two songs from her tape because she didn’t like them.
“I always made tapes from my CDs at in this time to listen to them with my Walkman, especially for holidays, and to think that a tape I could have lost more than 20 years ago had been found was incredible,” she said in the statement.
Barker contacted marine litter experts at the University of Plymouth to verify if it was possible for the tape to have traveled so far, and for it to have survived. The tape was found more than 1,200 miles from where Wedell thought she lost it.
“I couldn’t quite believe it at first,” Barker told CNN.
“This is an amazing story and another example of the problem of plastic pollution. It is very difficult to say exactly how long the tape has been in the sea, but the fact it has survived intact shows the durability of plastic and the threat it can pose to the marine environment,” Richard Thompson, head of the international marine litter research unit at the University of Plymouth, said in a statement.
“Through our research, we know that microplastics are abundant everywhere from Arctic ice to the deep seas. One of their main causes is being broken down from larger items, which is why we all need to think about the plastic we use and how we dispose of it,” he added.