Monday, July 23, 2007


The friendly floatees

A hat-tip to Kerry, who shared this link with us last week. It's as engaging as the idea of the escaped elephants taking a tour of suburbia from last week, and I couldn't help but share.

Picture, if you will, 29,000 children's bath toys - a virtual armada of red beavers, blue turtles, green frogs and yellow duckies - circumnavigating the globe for the past 15 years. Is that not the most whimsical thing you could imagine?

From the Globe and Mail article:

It's a story that began in 1992. In rough weather in the Pacific Ocean, a container of plastic bathtub toys went overboard from a ship sailing from Hong Kong to Tacoma, Wash., and broke open. The 29,000 turtles, ducks, beavers and frogs that were freed from their container prison have been floating around the world ever since.

Their travels have been tracked by retired oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer of Seattle using findings sent to him by a network of beachcombers. The toys' journey has been remarkable. Since going overboard, one group has circled the north Pacific between Alaska and Japan five times. But other groups have struck out in other directions.

“Some of them peeled off to the north [through the Bering Strait],” Mr. Ebbesmeyer said, “over to eastern Greenland, down to Labrador, over to about where the Titanic sank off Newfoundland, then turned east and went over to Europe where a frog was found in Scotland. On the U.S. side, a duck was found in Maine.”

(Make sure you click on the map that accompanies the article in the Globe. It shows how the currents have driven the toys through the years. Way wicked cool!)

The Wikipedia entry for the "Friendly Floatees" says that a $100 savings bond has been offered to anyone who finds one of the escaped bath toys, predicted to begin washing ashore in the UK sometime this year, and collectors are paying up to $1,000.

How can you not smile, knowing there's a massive fleet of 15 year old bath toys floating unhindered on the ocean's currents?