27th February 2011
Every cloud has a silver lining.
The humble toys are part of a shipment of 29,000 packaged ducks, frogs, turtles and beavers made in China for a US firm called First Years Inc. They were in a crate that fell off the deck of a container ship during a journey across the Pacific from Hong Kong in January 1992.
Since that moment, they have bobbed tens of thousands of miles. Some washed up on the shores of Hawaii and Alaska; others have been stuck in Arctic ice. A few crossed the site near Newfoundland where the Titanic sank, and at least one is believed to have been found on a beach in Scotland.
Now the creatures, nicknamed the “Friendly Floatees” by various broadcasters who have followed their progress over the years, have been immortalised in a book titled Moby-Duck. It not only chronicles their extraordinary odyssey, and what it has taught us about currents, but also lays bare a largely ignored threat to the marine environment: the vast numbers of containers that fall off the world’s cargo ships.
Think of the PhD theses in the making here. (Hey, tenure doesn’t grow on trees, you know.)
And think of the Pulitzer Prizes awaiting the ‘journalists’ who can come up with the scariest headlines.