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Object nearly as big as a car washes ashore in Jupiter

Buoy 2.JPG
Buoy washes ashore in Jupiter. (WPEC)

Beachgoers on Jupiter Island made a bizarre discovery over the weekend.

A huge yellow mechanical object, almost as big as a car, lying in the surf.

It's clearly not a boat and it's not a spy satellite, so what exactly is it?

“I think it's pretty cool. It’s not every day you see something like this washed up on the beach. It's different," said Tom Hartnett, a snowbird who spends the winter in Florida.

Hartnett, a retired police officer from New Jersey, and his wife stopped to take pictures.

“I posted on Facebook that my wife found a UFO," he said with a laugh.

"Are there little green men climbing out of it?" CBS12 News asked him.

"Yeah, yeah, I’m waiting for them to come out. My camera is ready," Hartnett said.

But this bright yellow contraption is not from some distant planet. It’s actually a desalinator, powered by ocean waves, that turns saltwater into freshwater.

It’s a demo model owned by a firm in Quebec called Oneka Technologies.

The company tells CBS12 News it's been anchored off Fort Pierce since 2017. But maintenance workers had it on a temporary anchor and it apparently broke loose and washed ashore in the rough seas over the weekend.

“I first I thought, what is it? Is it a bomb or is it a UFO? Or what? It does look like a buoy, but I’ve never seen a buoy like that," said Mike Gomes, a Hobe Sound resident.

Gomes, an auto mechanic, comes out here every day.

“I was walking the beach from about a mile, mile and a quarter down that way and saw a big thing as you can see," he said. "You wouldn’t believe the stuff I find on this beach. And as you can see, there’s nobody ever here."

The machine costs about $100,000 and can produce 2500 gallons of fresh water a day. The hope is to sell these things to small coastal towns or utilities that need additional sources of drinking water.

If you want to come down and get a picture with it, get a move on. The Canadian owners say they plan to have it off the beach by sometime Tuesday. The owner says it suffered minimal damage when it washed up on the beach.