It's a fantasy that goes back centuries: a message in a bottle, carried ashore from far-off lands. Authors, artists and children alike have dreamed of such a gift from the sea.

This time, though, it's not a bottle that washes ashore. It's eggs — thousands of little toy eggs.

That's what happened on the German island of Langeoog this week. Perched just off the North Sea coast, it found itself buffeted by an invasion of multicolored plastic eggs — much to the delight of local children, because the eggs contained toys.

Police for the Lower Saxony region of Germany tweeted the evidence.

Der Spiegel reports that police suspect the eggs came from a freighter that lost part of its cargo during an intense storm, which the BBC calls the worst to hit Germany's northeastern coast since 2006.

At any rate, what was lost now has been found, by many of the community's littlest residents. The local mayor, Uwe Garrels, soon allowed the town's local kindergartners to go pick up the toys, according toDeutsche Welle.

"The surprise eggs have found their way to freedom," Garrels said, according to the news service, which cited broadcaster NDR.

Of course, the joy of the moment wore off soon.

"At first I thought this was a wonder, because everything was so colorful and so on, but then we realized that this is a huge mess in the end," Garrels said, according to The Associated Press. He also noted the plastic bags and other materials that have washed ashore on the island. (All of which, it must be said, can cause some very real problems for wildlife.)

Still, all these little eggs contained an extra treat with their toys. Like the immortal bottle, they bore notes from afar.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit