Look out for the ducks

Anything goes, but keep it seemly...

Look out for the ducks

Postby Hud » Thu Jun 28, 2007 10:48 pm

I hadn't heard about this, but I'd bet some of you have:
A flotilla of plastic ducks is heading for Britain’s beaches, according to an American oceanographer.

For the past 15 years Curtis Ebbesmeyer has been tracking nearly 30,000 plastic bath toys that were released into the Pacific Ocean when a container was washed off a cargo ship.

Some of the ducks, known as Friendly Floatees, are expected to reach Britain after a journey of nearly 17,000 miles, having crossed the Arctic Ocean frozen into pack ice, bobbed the length of Greenland and been carried down the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Mr Ebbesmeyer, who is based in Seattle, said yesterday that those that had not been trapped in circulating currents in the North Pacific, crushed by icebergs or blown ashore in Japan are bobbing across the Atlantic on the Gulf Stream.

Any beachcomber who finds one of the ducks will be able to claim a $100 (£50) reward from the toys’ American distributor, First Years Inc.

The ducks began life in a Chinese factory and were being shipped to the US from Hong Kong when three 40ft containers fell into the Pacific during a storm on January 29, 1992. Two thirds of them floated south through the tropics, landing months later on the shores of Indonesia, Australia and South America. But 10,000 headed north and by the end of the year were off Alaska and heading back westwards. It took three years for the ducks to circle east to Japan, past the original drop site and then back to Alaska on a current known as the North Pacific Gyre before continuing north towards the Arctic.

Many were stranded as the currents took them through the Bering Strait, which divides Alaska from Russia. Mr Ebbesmeyer predicted that they would spend years trapped in the Arctic ice, moving at the rate of one mile a day towards the Atlantic.

In 2000, eight years after their journey began, the ducks were reported in the North Atlantic and in 2003, when they were expected to wash up on the east coast of America, First Years Inc announced the reward. By now the ducks had been bleached white by the sun and sea water. Sightings in the past two years have been scant, but oceanographers believe that their next port of call is southwest England, southern Ireland and western Scotland.

Simon Boxall, of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, said that the ducks offered a great opportunity for climate change research. “They are a nice tracer for what the currents are doing as they travel around the world, and currents are what determines our climate, and cycles of carbon.

“I would ask holidaymakers to keep an eye out, as they might be very few and far between by now. It’s a real adventure story and the plastic should last 100 years, so we hope it will continue.”

The landfalls have all been logged on a computer model called the Ocean Surface Currents Simulation, which is used to help fisheries and find people lost at sea. Two children’s books have been written about the saga and the ducks have become collector’s items, changing hands for £500.
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Postby coloin » Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:58 am

well........small world

I go to the beach on the north devon coast so i will keep my eyes peeled......and send a photo and ebay reference !

I also went to university with Simon Boxall.....

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Joined: 05 May 2005

Postby Hud » Fri Jul 13, 2007 3:01 pm

Just think of the coincidence if you had found one of the wandering ducks. Please let me know if you hear of anyone finding one.
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