NAGS HEAD, NC (WVEC) -- The mystery behind dozens of disks of garbage that washed up on the Outer Banks appears to have been solved.
Last month, residents found more than three dozen disks of compressed garbage on beaches in the area of Kill Devil Hills and Corolla.
Kill Devil Hills Ocean Rescue Supervisor David Elder said it's normal for some trash to wash up on shore, but this case was different.
"[They were] very clearly completely circular disks, and that's abnormal," he said.
Ted Brown with the Navy's Fleet Forces Command said the disks appear to be similar to those made on Navy ships to compress plastic waste for easy storage. Ships are not supposed to dump plastic into the ocean.
Now after an investigation, the Navy says the trash disks originated from the USS Whidbey Island, a dock landing ship home ported at Joint Expeditionary Base–Little Creek.
The Navy determined the trash had come from one of its vessels, and after contacting the ship, a sailor reportedly admitted to throwing the disks overboard, in violation of Navy regulations. There's no word on any possible disciplinary action at this time.
The Navy says that according to regulation, its ships are not to dispose of plastic in the ocean. Shipboard-generated plastic is routinely separated and processed into compressed, melted disks.
These disks are then stored onboard until they can be properly disposed of ashore.