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How Did A New Jersey Realty Sign Wind Up Washing Ashore In France?

POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A New Jersey realty sign has quite the story to tell.

Nearly six years after being washed away by Hurricane Sandy, the sandy and tattered sign was found on a beach – thousands of miles away in France.

As CBS2's Vanessa Murdock reported, the sign belongs to Diane Turton, president of Diane Turton Realty.

It was discovered by a Belgian man vacationing in Bordeaux, France. He snapped the photos, Googled her name and sent an email.

"I couldn't believe it. At first I thought it was a joke," Turton told Murdock.

Murdock asked whether it was a publicity.

"No, gosh no," said Turton.

"We got the email on May the 18th," the company's marketing director, Perry Beneduce, said.

Diane Turton, Realtors - A Truly GLOBAL Real Estate Company! Two weeks ago, a resident of France contacted our...

Posted by Diane Turton, Realtors on Wednesday, May 30, 2018

He said they wanted to know for sure it was the real McCoy, so they used GPS locators on the pictures to confirm the location.

"We felt a little bit like CSI here," he said.

To figure out when and where the sign went missing, they looked at the design and the phone number.

"We knew it was from the October of 2012 through May. The only waterfront listing that we lost signage on from this office during that period of time was the address in Brielle," he said.

The sign started its journey on Cedarcrest Drive in Brielle, New Jersey more than five and a half years ago. Superstorm Sandy ravaged the shore and sent the sign swirling into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

What happened in between?

"We don't know," said Beneduce.

For insight, Murdock caught up with Philip Orton, who teaches physics of the ocean at Stevens Institute of Technology.

"It hitched a ride on the Gulf Stream," he said.

The Gulf Stream is a strong ocean current off the East Coast. It's part of the wind-driven North Atlantic Gyre.

"You might think of this gyre as like a merry-go-round. It moves clockwise and it takes about three and a half years," said Orton. "So if this sign hitched a ride and took five and a half years, we're thinking it crossed the Atlantic, came back again across the Atlantic, and then maybe a storm blew it onto a beach."

The sign will likely travel full-circle. Turton is planning to bring the sign back home.

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