It looked like an awful task for coastguards and lifeboatmen.
Floating in the sea off Southsea were what appeared to be the remains of a human torso.
But thankfully the first callout of the new year ended happily when the ‘rib cage’ turned out to be a plastic dummy.
A Portsmouth Coastguard spokesman said: ‘We were paged to reports of human remains in the water by Clarence Pier.
‘On scene with Hampshire Police the team were able to contact the first informant and obtain further information which lead to the object being sighted floating in the sea.
‘Portsmouth Lifeboat were paged as a precaution whilst the team secured the seafront and kept the item visual.
‘Fortunately the Coastguard team were able to secure the item from the shore and it was confirmed that what appeared to be human remains was actually a lifesize plastic skeleton torso that had been discarded in the sea and the lifeboat was stood down before arriving on scene.
‘Thanks to the first informant sighting the object and reporting it we were able to confirm that it was not as bad as first appeared.’