What Happens When We Lose 28,000 Rubber Duckies At Sea?

(PCM) Everyone knows that rubber duckies can make bath time lots of fun, you know because Sesame Street’s Ernie told us so, right? Well, bath time was far less fun for a lot of businesses who were expecting a shipment of rubber duckies, 28,000 of them to be exact, that went missing at sea back in 1992. In fact, funny enough, rubber duckies from this very same shipment still continue to wash up on shore at points all across the globe.

A rubber duckie find, could be a nice surprise, right? We think so!

So just what happened to lead to so many adorable little duckies being lost at sea? The story goes, that in 1992 a cargo ship container tumbled in the North Pacific Ocean and ended up accidentally dumping 28,000 rubber duckies and other bath toys into the sea. The toys were headed from China to be delivered to businesses throughout the United States.

The ocean currents ended up getting a hold of the duckies and of course at that point there was no chance of ever recovering them. The rubber duckies are probably one of the more interesting items to be lost at sea, but the issue also taught us a few things about the way our oceans operate.

Researchers were able to study the missing rubber duckies and learn details about the way in which ocean currents move and also about the dangers of plastics pollution within our aquatic environmental landscape. Some of the rubber duckies have washed up on the shores of Hawaii, Alaska, South America, Australia and the Pacific Northwest, while others have been found frozen in Arctic ice. Others have somehow made their way as far as Scotland and Newfoundland in the Atlantic Ocean. It has been absolutely fascinating to watch their journey.

The rubber duckies were given the nickname Friend Floatees and many followers have been tracking their progression throughout the years. According to the Mother Nature Network, more than 2,000 of the missing rubber duckies are circulating in the currents of the North Pacific Gyre — a vortex of currents that stretches between Japan, southeast Alaska, Kodiak and the Aleutian Islands that the plight of the duckies helped to identify.

The Mother Nature Network goes on to say, “the North Pacific Gyre is also home to what has been called the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, a massive island of floating debris, mostly plastic, that the gyre stirs like a giant pot of trashy soup. Though the rubber ducks have helped raise awareness about the gyre, most of what makes up the garbage patch is hardly so cute. Most of it consists of tiny plastic fragments and chemical sludge, but just about anything discarded that floats can be found there.

Some of the trash got there the same way the rubber duckies did, via lost shipping crates. Though no one knows exactly how many shipping containers are lost at sea every year, oceanographers put the figure at anything from several hundred to 10,000 a year, a startling estimate, though still only a tiny part of a global trash problem.”

We have learned the hard lesson that plastic trash can last for many, many years and still remain in very good shape, given the condition that many of the missing rubber duckies have turned up in, and that tells us that we have a global issue of trash not breaking down properly which can lead to a severe impact on keep our oceans safe and clean.

The missing rubber duckies have also left their mark on pop culture as several children’s books have been written about the Friendly Floatee incident and the toys themselves have become collectors items once authenticity has been verified. They can sell for prices as high as $1,000 or more!

We are totally putting on our waders and heading out to the shore to search for some missing rubber duckies! Who’s with us?

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