Mom’s Beach Photo Reveals A Danger Hidden In Plain Sight

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By: Lindsey Charleston | Published: Jan 17, 2023

When the Gravell family decided to spend a day at the beach, they came across a metal sphere. They didn’t think it would be the most dangerous day in their life—just a fun family day by the sea.

Since the object was covered in barnacles, and the children were excited to take pictures with it—but they had no idea of how much of a risk they were taking.

A Regular Family

The Gravell family, consisting of parents Kelly and Gareth and their children Erin and Ellis, live in Burry Port, a coastal town in Wales. Just like any regular family, they love to take vacations. They also treasure the time they spend bonding with their kids.

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When they’re not jointly running their waste management company, they usually go to the beach. Similar to other families who live near the coast, they enjoy taking pictures of the moments they spend near the ocean.

A Gorgeous Beach 

Burry Port, the Gravell family’s hometown, is located on the coast and boasts a picturesque beach overlooking the Gower Peninsula. The town was once home to a busy shipping port that transported Welsh coal up and down the United Kingdom.

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Currently, the port is a popular tourist destination known for its natural beauty. Despite its history as an industrial hub, the area has transformed into a peaceful and scenic spot. It’s perfect for families like the Gravells to spend their days lounging on the sand or swimming in the sea.

A Family-Friendly Marina

In addition to its beautiful beach, Burry Port’s coastline also features a charming marina with a picturesque lighthouse. The marina is a hub for recreational boats and water sports companies. Essentially, the area is a perfect place for sun and sea lovers.

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The place is also popular with cyclists and walkers because of its location on the 13-mile Millennium Coastal Path. This path offers stunning views of the coast and is a great place for people to enjoy the great outdoors.

Gravell Kids' Fun-Filled Day

For the Gravell children, their local beach was one of their go-to places for fun and enjoyment. It’s a place where they can play in the sand, paddle in the waves, and explore the various items that can wash up on the shore.

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With so many activities, a trip to this beach can be a memorable experience for anyone, young or old. Even a regular day out by the sea has the potential to be special. Little did they know this day would be one-of-a-kind.

A Memorable Outing

During the summer of 2015, the Gravell family took several trips to the beach, but one outing, in particular, stands out in their memories. The weather was perfect for a day at the beach, so they decided to take advantage of it and have some fun in the sun.

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As they played in the sand and paddled in the waves, Gareth snapped a photo to remember the occasion and later shared it on his Facebook page. It was moments before they came head-to-head with a dangerous artifact.

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An Innocent Wave 

In the photo that Gareth shared on Facebook in 2015, he can be seen smiling and waving at the camera while Erin and Ellis both give double thumbs-ups. The three of them are posing in their swimsuits against a backdrop of blue sky, clear water, and smooth sand.

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The accompanying caption reads, “No place like home! Kids love Burry Port on a nice day!” The image captures a happy and carefree moment for the Gravell family at their local beach. None of them knew what was going to happen next. 

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Boogie Board Adventure

In the photograph, Erin was six years old, and Ellis was four. It seems that the children found plenty to do at the beach that day. According to their mom, Kelly, in her interview with ABC News in 2015, her children took their boogie boards down as they were going out to the ocean.

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The Gravell family made sure they had a fun and active day at the beach. They made the most of the good weather and the various activities available to them.

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Stranger Thing

While enjoying the beach, the Gravell family noticed a strange object on the sand. It clearly caught their attention due to its odd features. Both the parents and children were curious about the item and decided to take a closer look.

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Kelly remembered that the object was large enough to be seen from afar—they decided to go near it to take a closer look. The family’s curiosity led them to investigate the mysterious item, unaware of the danger it posed.

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It’s A Buoy! Or Is It?

The round object that the Gravell family saw on the beach seemed to have washed up from the sea. It was covered in barnacles. At first, they thought it was a buoy, but upon closer inspection, they realized that it was something else.

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Despite not knowing what it was, the family was still intrigued and decided to take a look. As they examined the object, they had no idea that it was actually a dangerous device with a deadly function.

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Harmless Picture?

The Gravell family was drawn to the buoy-like item, with Kelly and Gareth taking pictures of Erin and Ellis posing next to it. In the photos, the children can be seen smiling into the camera, unaware of the potential danger right next to them.

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Despite its seemingly harmless appearance, the item posed a risk to the family. It is important to always be cautious and aware of potential dangers, even if they do not seem obvious at first. Better be safe than sorry.

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They’re Only Barnacles—Or So They Thought

Kelly told ABC News that the Gravell family was attracted to the buoy due to the barnacles on it. Ellis, in particular, was interested in getting a closer look at the object and even touched and knocked on it.

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It is natural to be curious about our surroundings, especially children. But it is important to be aware of potential dangers. We believe it is always better to err on the side of caution and keep a safe distance from unknown objects, no matter how interesting they may seem.

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Mystery Object

Gareth was also drawn to the mysterious object and captured it on camera through a video that he later shared on Facebook. The footage shows his wife and children examining the object from what they thought was a safe distance—although if they had known what it really was, they might have stepped a few meters further back.

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Even little Ellis was seen reaching out his finger to touch the barnacle-covered base. In this case, the “buoy” actually posed an unprecedented risk to the Gravell family. 

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A Live Sea Monster?

Gareth even proudly shared a video of the mysterious barnacle-covered object on Facebook as his family was examining it. He captioned it as “Ellis was fascinated with the ‘sea monster’ washed up on Burry Port beach!” due to his son’s curiosity. 

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The post received a number of reactions and comments. However, at the time, Gareth was unaware that the “sea monster” he had encountered was actually a trap from an older time. Needless to say, it was harmful to his family—and plenty of commenters knew it.

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Lucky Boy Touches “Buoy”

Gareth and Kelly allowed their son Ellis to touch the object, as they had no reason to believe it posed any danger. However, if they had known that the “buoy” was actually a deadly trap, they may have reconsidered getting so close. 

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Fortunately, the couple and their children had a lucky escape from the potentially harmful object. If Gareth had pulled one wrong thing off its shell or pushed it the wrong way, this could have been a very different story indeed. 

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Very Close To Danger

The Gravell family had unknowingly put themselves in harm’s way by getting close to the object on the beach, unaware of the potential danger until five days later when a friend informed them of the true nature of the “buoy” in their Facebook photos.

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The family had been inches away from oblivion. Thanks to their posts, they were able to find out the nature of the mystery item they found at the beach. The Gravell family almost learned the hard way the value of exercising caution when facing the unknown.

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The Authorities Became Involved

Due to the mystery surrounding the washed-up object, it was not only the Gravell family who had been interested in the strange item. Officials from Carmarthenshire County Council had also noticed it, too. Presumably, someone had shared it with someone in the council, 

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Similar to the Gravells, the council workers initially believed the object to be a buoy. However, it was later discovered that the object posed a potential danger. It’s a good thing they caught wind of the object, as it posed a threat to just about anyone walking by.

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The Truth Slowly Came To Light

In 2015, Carmarthenshire County Council press and communications officer Allison Thomas-David revealed to ABC the true identity of the object that had washed up on the beach. She stated that the object did appear similar to a buoy and that it was covered with gooseneck barnacles.

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It was only when the barnacles started dropping off that the engravings on the object were finally exposed. It was only then that everyone discovered the item, which had initially been mistaken for a harmless buoy. The barnacles apparently disguised the object’s true nature.

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Destroying The Mystery Object

Carmarthenshire County Council press and communications officer Allison Thomas-David revealed that the object, which had initially been thought to be a harmless buoy, was a dangerous mine with inscriptions that even described its true nature.

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The object needed to be destroyed in order to prevent anyone from being harmed as the result of their natural curiosity. Thomas-David stated that the coastguard had been notified and had taken charge of the situation. The coastguard then picked it up, and the bomb squad was also put in the loop.

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Explosive “Buoy”

As it turned out, the “buoy” the Gravell family had encountered on the beach was not a buoy at all but was actually an unexploded United States military mine. This was all written on the side in plain English. The mine was around 80 years or so old.

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Despite its age, the mine was still potentially dangerous. The exact model of the mine was not clear, but it was evident to investigators that the “buoy” was a type of explosive the allies used to deter or sink enemy ships. 

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The Beach Needed To Be Cleared

Upon realizing the potential danger posed by the unexploded mine, officials had to take immediate action. It was essential to ensure the safety of the general public. They cleared the beach and arranged for the mine to be detonated in a controlled explosion.

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Carmarthenshire County Council press and communications officer Allison Thomas-David stated the value of evacuating the beach as quickly as it was possible. The mine was then detonated at approximately six in the evening on Monday via a controlled explosion.

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Long-Lost Military Mine

The old mine caused the beach to be temporarily closed. The incident was reported on Facebook by the nearby Pembrey County Park. It was later discovered that the mine had been encountered by more than just the Gravell family—quite a few people had seen it.

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A comment on the Pembrey County Park’s Facebook update about the military mine found on the beach revealed that the coast guard was alerted to the object by someone who had walked their dog past it earlier that morning.

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Parks And Explosion

The old military mine found on West Beach at Burry Port Harbour was destroyed in a controlled explosion carried out by the UK’s Royal Navy. The detonation was a significant event in the small town, drawing a crowd of hundreds who gathered behind a cordon to witness the blast. 

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The Gravell family was also among the spectators. The explosion effectively disposed of the decades-old explosive, ensuring the safety of the community. Imagine if a child had gotten curious enough to jump on top of it!

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Sense Of Relief

The mine was destroyed as the Gravell family looked on in alarm, realizing that if things had gone differently, they could have been the ones caught in the blast. Despite their close encounter, the family had managed to escape unharmed. 

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Kelly Gravell told CBS News of the sense of relief they felt after witnessing the explosion. They were grateful that the mine hadn’t exploded while they were at the beach. However, the family also expressed concern for the barnacles. Young Ellis had to ask if the animals were OK.

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Video Footage Of The Detonation

After the controlled detonation of the old military mine, a video of a bomb disposal team clearing the site was uploaded to YouTube in August 2015. A caption written by Robert Masterman accompanied the video.

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The caption explained how the mine had been found on a nearby sandbank and washed up on the local beach. The event caused a lot of drama in the small town of Burry Port. The video showed the bomb disposal team safely disposing of the mine.

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A Brush With Death

The Gravell family continued to reflect on their close encounter with the old military mine even after it had been safely disposed of. They were shocked to learn that the large metal ball they had posed beside was actually a dangerous explosive.

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Kelly Gravell told ABC News that they never realized it was a bomb. Things get washed up all the time on the shore. The shock they felt doubtlessly made them more cautious when approaching unknown objects washed up on the beach.

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Taking Things Lightly

Despite the gravity of the situation, Gareth maintained a sense of humor about his family’s encounter with the military mine. After learning the truth about the object, he tweeted a light-hearted “Oops” as well as a description of how the buoy his kids were jumping on all weekend actually was.

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The tweet may be one way for the father to lighten the load of an unexpected and potentially dangerous situation, as well as express his immense gratitude that the Gravell family managed to escape unharmed.

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How The Mine Was Discovered

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Kelly Gravell explained how her family came across the military mine on the beach. She described how the tide was high when they discovered what they thought was a “buoy.” 

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The family was more interested in the barnacles on it, not realizing the potential danger it posed. It was when Gareth noticed the chain they realized the object might not be a humble buoy or mysterious washed-up sea creature from the depths after all.

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Her Gut Feel Was Right

Kelly even remembered making a joke about the mine when they first saw it. She nonchalantly joked that the buoy was actually a big bomb yet thought nothing of it after her initial impression. Little did she know she was right all along.

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She added that it wasn’t until after the realization that the object was actually a mine that the gravity of the situation set in. They were literally inches close to a potential disaster. It was both shocking yet also a miracle they were unharmed.

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A Lesson Learned

Despite their close encounter with the unexploded mine, the Gravell family has not been deterred from visiting their local beach. Kelly told The Daily Telegraph she was not at all worried about going back. However, she also emphasized that they will definitely be more careful in the future.

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She added that the experience had taught her to think twice before tampering with unfamiliar objects washed up on the beach. Despite their caution, the family was still interested in the artifact and returned to the beach to watch it being destroyed in a controlled explosion.

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A Proud Post

Although the experience had made Kelly more cautious, it also provided her with a memorable photo to share on Facebook. She posted a picture of her kids posing next to the mine. She accompanied it with an eye-catching statement.

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The caption read, “Erin and Ellis, with mine covered in Gooseneck Barnacles, washed up at Burry Port Beach!” The unique and striking image caught the attention of her friends and family on the social networking site, and some could not help but click the “like” button.

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Facebook Comments

Kelly’s Facebook post about the military mine received many reactions and comments, with some expressing shock or amusement. One user wrote, “Omg, I can’t believe this, Kelly,” while another commented, “Mad lol… def a photo to come out when they’re 18.” 

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A friend of Kelly’s wrote, “That must have been scary.” Kelly replied that they were not at all scared. They didn’t know what the buoy actually was. She also described how the barnacles caught their attention. She added that she felt very lucky that the mine“didn’t go BOOM!”

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The Public Is Reassured

After the controlled explosion of the military mine, Carmarthenshire councilor Meryl Gravell released a statement reassuring the public that appropriate action had been taken and apologizing for any inconvenience caused by the temporary closure of the beach. 

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However, news of the incident in the small Welsh town of Burry Port quickly spread beyond the county, even reaching the United States and being covered by major news outlets such as CBS and ABC. The discovery of the dangerous unexploded bomb garnered significant attention, highlighting the importance of proper explosive disposal.

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A Story Worth Retelling

Kelly was surprised by the level of attention their close encounter with the military mine received but acknowledged that it was an interesting story. The incident has become a memorable “what-if” situation for the family and a tale that will likely stay with them for the rest of their lives.

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Despite the potential danger they faced, the Gravell family has promised to be extra cautious. They also made sure to avoid situations that could cause them harm. It was a lesson they were grateful to have learned. 

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