What did we learn from the rubber ducks in the ocean?

A few years ago, a shipping container fell off a ship in the Pacific Ocean, and it broke open, releasing its load of thousands of little yellow rubber ducks. It was a fortunate accident, because the flock of bathtub toys could be seen from satellites. We always had a general idea where the world’s water flowed, but now we had an actual physical marker.

When I read about them, they had floated cheerfully north along the west coast of North America, apparently found their way east through the arctic waters, and were starting to show up in the north Atlantic Ocean. I haven’t heard anything since.

What else happened to our little yellow explorers? Did we learn anything new about ocean currents from their adventure? Is one of them writing a memoir? :wink:

They’re very hard to count. Every time a spotter actually sights one, he yells, “DUCK!” causing everyone to cower on the ground or the deck. By the time they all realise their mistake, the duck is out of sight. ::sigh:: Scientific progress ain’t what it used to be.

Hate to give the standard not-so-helpful answer, but there’s a lot of information out there if you google “rubber duck pacific,” including the possibility that these lost ducks may be contributing to the emergency of homosexual behavior in seabirds.


That’s okay, I expected some jokes. Rubber ducks don’t echo, this thread is so wack, a rubber duck walks into a bar, I don’t mind that, it’s fun.

If somebody has a factual answer, though, please wedge it in among the humor. I’d really appreciate it.

Yeah, normal Dope etiquitte is to wait on a factual answer in a GQ thread before the jokes come running, but it had already slid down to 3rd from the top and I was afraid of it falling of the page without an answer.
I can’t find a cite newer than 2003.



Perhaps this will help jog someone’s memory.

Googling rubber duck ocean current brought up a lot of articles that were written in late July, 2003, describing the 1992 accident, and the fact that a scientist was now offerring $100 per rubber duck. I saw the article Ethilrist is referring to, too; it blamed estrogen-like compounds in the plastic. (CS Monitor? CBS? I forget.)

Try the Sea Beans site.

I e-mailed Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer with a link to this thread. Perhaps he’ll stop by and update us.

Or perhaps he’ll be too busy measuring the likes of;

A while back on NPR there was a scientist on who was talking about tracking sneakers, volleyballs etc that were lost from container ships.

Could this be the same person?

Ach, never mind. Answered my own question.

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