Thunderpig’s Mirror

Rubber Ducks Tour The World

Posted by Thunder Pig on May 23, 2008

Hold fast to that rubber ducky, Ernie!


On January 10, 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.

Source: Strange Maps, where you’ll see a map or two of this strange world tour.

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