Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Rubber Duckies Are Landing!

15 years ago in 1992, rubber ducks - known as Friendly Floaties - were being shipped from Hong Kong to the US when three 40 foot containers fell into the Pacific Ocean after a storm. It sent nearly 30,000 rubber duckies out into the perilous waters.

20,000 of them went southward...washing ashore several months later in Australia, Indonesia, and even South America.

For the remaining 10,000 Friendly Floaties, their journey was just beginning. This Rubber Armada went north, lazily floating towards Alaska and the Beiring Strait. There, they met the harsh Arctic Ice. Incredibly, they managed to move a mile per day while frozen in ice, continuing their amazing North-West route towards the Atlantic Ocean.

Curtis Ebbesmeyer, (pictured left) an oceanographer based out of Seattle, has been tracking them from the very beginning. He and other scientists have been very interested in the Friendly Floaties' journey, tracking their route and using that information to learn more about global ocean currents.

“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," said Simon Boxall, of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK.

After the ducks survived the Arctic Ice, it was in 2000 when they were tracked in the North Atlantic. In 2001, they were found to be floating right over the area where the Titanic sank. Seems like the mighty vessel has nothin' on these rubber ducks!

They continued to float, and in 2003, scientists thought the Rubber Armada might make shore on America's Atlantic coast. The manufacturer, The First Years Inc. then put a bounty on each duckies head worth a $100 savings bond! (Only for those found in New England, Iceland, and Canada). Many scientists that this was going to be the end of the Rubber Armada's odyssey.

They were wrong. The rubber duckies that didn't wash up in the US have continued to travel in the Atlantic, and 17,000 miles and 15 years later are now heading towards Britain. They have lost their color, but these tough little ducks are still going strong.

Will they indeed hit the British beaches in the coming days? Computer models say it will happen. How about those Friendly Floaties that don't come ashore?

Their amazing voyage will continue...
Unless another certain cute toy gets jealous and manages to sabotage the trip...


Siren said...

It's amazing how the little duckies have survived fifteen years adrift at sea, but can't survive six months in a bathtub with a three year old.

Keshi said...

wow amazing!


Big Pissy said...

That is so cool!

Thanks for sharing! :)

Nan said...

I am a little disappointed no friendly floaties decided to end up at the shores around my location :(

I am with Siren also - Freja always end up molester her rubbies.

David Amulet said...

Geographical confusion aside ("North-West route towards the Atlantic Ocean" from the Pacific is a stretch), this is an amazing story. It's better than messages-in-bottles ... and something to look for whenever you're at a beach!

-- david

goldennib said...

This is so neat. I wish I could find something like this.

angel, jr. said...

Whenever I see those things, I always think of Sesame Street and Ernie singing about them--"Rubber duckie you're the one, you make bath time so much fun"...

delmer said...

I threw a bottle into the English Channel in 1976. I imagine it washed up on shore shortly after the tossing -- I wouldn't have known anything about tides and when to toss a bottle (I still don't).

BUT ... if it did make it out to sea, and if someone gets it and drops a letter in the mail to the address I left on notebook paper in the bottle, well, the current residents of my old house will make sure I get it (they're my cousins.)

Vani said...

i agree with Siren!

Dan said...

I released one in my bathtub a few years ago, near the northeastern corner. Surprisingly it hasn't gotten every far. It's hovering around the southwestern corner these days. Oh wait! I guess that is pretty far!

Tim said...

I keep hoping that some big fish will reveal my guinness watch in his belly...possibly capturing your attention as a post.

Orhan Kahn said...

Awesome write-up. But seriously, of all things to spill into the sea it was a thirty thousand rubber ducks.

Life is funny like that.

Sassy Blondie said...

That is the coolest! Phoenix, you find the best stuff!

DaBich said...

Those poor ducks are probably quacking up.

Awww...c'mon, that was funny! ;P

The Phoenix said...

If you can find an authentic rubber duckie from this Rubber Armada, they're worth upwards of $1000!

kim said...

I've been following this story for awhile - I think it's neat how they've frozen and unfrozen and are still travelling. Plus, reward!!

Jamie Dawn said...

What an incredible journey!!
They started out as virgin duckies, but now they are hardcore ducks. :-)

Anonymous said...

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