What the heck?!?!

Sand piles mysteriously appearing on the beach in Point Pleasant Beach recently activated the social media rumor mill. 

Last weekend, Jerry Meaney, operator of the Facebook page Barnegat Bay Island, NJ, posted an image of a few dozen sand piles sprawled across a stretch of beach near Atlantic Avenue in the borough. He said he found more -- "over a mile" -- further north. 

"Does anyone have a clue what they are?" inquired Meaney, a Point Beach retiree, volunteer EMT, and citizen reporter who posts daily coastal images and discusses community happenings on his Facebook page. 

And the responses started rolling in.

Speculation ranged from the sand hoisted from holes dug by metal detector enthusiasts to aliens creating something akin to crop circles. 

"The only reasonable explanation is that aliens formed them overnight. They got tired of crop circles," commented Michael Stalker.

Some internet sleuthing led to a scientific explanation that gained traction on Meaney's page: "frost heaving." 

Citing wikipedia, Lori Mastrianni Austin explained: "Frost heaving results from ice forming beneath the surface of soil during freezing conditions in the atmosphere. The ice grows in the direction of heat loss, starting at the freezing front or boundary in the soil."

But apparently the speculation -- even the scientific theory -- is unfounded. 

It's simply sand art created by a retired cop who just wants to give people something to talk about and enjoy, a source told Meaney Tuesday.

"His name is Charlie, a retired Newark policeman, who walks the boards on a regular basis but got a little bored, so he has been walking the sand and making these artistic sand piles. Nice job, Charlie!" Meaney said. Local resident Lauren Jager-Liebel said she saw Charlie working on his artwork Tuesday. 

So in the end, Charlie's objective worked: people are talking.