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Monday, August 04, 2008

Friendly Floatees’ World Tour 

From the website Strange Maps



. . . On January 10, [1992] a container holding almost 29,000 plastic bath toys spills off a cargo ship into the middle of the Pacific Ocean and breaks open. The unsinkable toys, which were en route from Hong Kong to Tacoma (Washington), include a lot of iconic yellow rubber ducks that have since been caught up in the world’s ocean currents and continue turning up on the most improbable shores. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, a retired oceanographer, saw from the beginning how valuable the rubber duckies could be in tracing ocean currents, and correctly predicted their trip through the Northwest Passage.
The toys, or ‘Friendly Floatees’, as they became known, made their first landfall in mid November of 1992, when the counter-clockwise Subpolar Gyre started dumping the yellow rubber ducks (and blue turtles, red beavers and green frogs) on Alaskan shores. It took the ducks about three years to drift full circle on the Gyre – scientists calculate they drift 50% faster than the water in the current itself. They turned up all over the Pacific: Japan, Hawaii, North America and Australia.
As Ebbesmeyer predicted, some ducks escaped the Gyre to flow North through the Bering Strait into the Arctic. Between 1995 and 2000, they slowly drift eastward, frozen in the arctic ice, at a rate of 1 mile per day. In the new millennium, the ducks started reaching the North Atlantic, being sighted from the shores of Maine to Massachusetts. In 2001, the ducks reached the site where the Titanic sank. In 2003, the plastic toys reached the shores of the Hebrides, off the coast of Scotland. This article in the Daily Mail predicted their arrival on the shores of southwestern England in 2007.
If you spot one of these plastic toys on a beach, its colors probably faded by now, with the imprint ‘The Early Years’, then you’ve found one member of the plastic armada that set sail over 15 years ago.
Credit to Edstock at The Galloping Beaver for the link to this great site.

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