Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
It's funny.  Laugh. Science

Drifting Bath Toys Expected To Hit New England 61

gsx1400 writes " Auntie Beeb is reporting on the 11 year, 5,000+ mile journey by a container load of rubber ducks, The article doesn't go into specifics, but a more detailed analysis of this and other long-distance flotsam is here. This has nasty connotations for the Cargo of the SS Mulheim, which ran aground earlier this year in Cornwall, and has been left to break up. It's estimated that up to 10,000 containers are washed off ships each year, and many of them do not sink, but drift around our oceans, causing pollution and shipping hazards."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Drifting Bath Toys Expected To Hit New England

Comments Filter:
  • 50,000 Nike shoes... (Score:5, Informative)

    by while(true) ( 626738 ) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @09:57AM (#6423434)
    A similar thing happened in 1999-2001. When, among other things, 50,000 Nike shoes drifted around the globe. This National Geographic's article [] discusses this incident and goes into more detail on the whole phenomena of drifting cargo.
    • When, among other things, 50,000 Nike shoes drifted around the globe.

      There was a radio program about beachcombers a while ago and they mentioned that all the right shoes came ashore at one spot and all the left shoes came ashore about 3 miles up the coast. Presumably the sea had sorted them based on their chirality

  • Causing pollution? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Call me crazy, but what difference does it make if a container full of 'pollution' falls off a ship and sinks, or falls off a ship and floats? Still pollutes the oceans doesn't it?
    • Yeah, but generally pollution looks dark and evil. It's not like nice and smilling yellow ducks floating around.

      beside, i suspect that's again a tour-de-force from stupid ecologists trying to free donald duck.
    • by SEWilco ( 27983 ) on Sunday July 13, 2003 @05:36AM (#6427282) Journal
      If it falls off a ship and sinks, it's not pollution. It is litter on the ocean floor.

      If it falls off a ship and the entire sealed container floats, it is not pollution. It is an oddly shaped rock of low density with a high iron content on its surface. It is a hazard to navigation.

      If it breaks open, whether on the ocean floor, or due to impact, rust, or people breaking it open on a beach, then the "pollution" inside is released. If it's something that sinks then that becomes litter wherever it lands. If it is something that contaminates water then it becomes pollution, although that depends upon your definition of "contamination".

      If it's a container full of gold and people have broken it open on a beach -- it will be cleaned up pretty quickly.

  • by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @11:32AM (#6423745)
    But I happen to be one of (probably) a number of people who have had the misfortune of being in charge of a yacht on a trans-atlantic voyage which very nearly came seriously unstuck as a result of hitting a submerged container.

    In our case, the impact was a glancing blow, and although it did make a hole in the hull, we were able to patch it sufficiently to keep us afloat. If we had hit the thing squarely, though, the boat would definitely have sunk. Nasty.

    It's always bothered me, ever since, every time I look at those container ships in harbour; there is nothing more than gravity holding those damn containers down.

    • You would probably find that the stacked blocks are joined together with large pins, just as they would be on a flatbed truck or rail car, just a few (!) boxes higher than what they would be on either. As stable as container ships are, things still have to be secured, as something as heavy as a container would shift so easily on even a gentle roll, potentially capsizing the ship.

      Now, I haven't seen this for myself, but i just cannot fathom the idea of so many large unsecured objects stacked up so high on
    • Well, gravity, 4 massive iron guiderails, 4-8 hi-tensile steel cable tiedowns, and 4 steel knuckle locks.

      But I suppose that's quibbling.
    • We should mandate a beacon on these containers that activate based on water pressure. It would help avoid navigation dangers and encourage salvage.

      When the beacon's battery is about to die, its last act is to blow a charge on a valve which allows water to fill the container, scuttling the debris. I bet it could be done for fifty bucks a container.
  • by TrebleJunkie ( 208060 ) <ezahurak@at l a n> on Saturday July 12, 2003 @11:42AM (#6423791) Homepage Journal

    "They're toys for two-year olds, and they're called Floatees, and they're meant to go into the bathtub with the kids," recounts Ebbesmeyer. "Each package has a green frog and a blue turtle and a yellow duck and a red beaver."

    ... huh huh. "Red Beaver." eh heh heh.

  • by GuyMannDude ( 574364 ) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @01:15PM (#6424172) Journal

    I pity the poor ocean-dwelling carnivores which must have gotten a rude shock when they tried to dine on the group of slow-moving, brightly-colored objects thinking them the chance of a lifetime:

    Killer whale observes slowly drifting flock of ducks and can't believe his luck.

    "Sweet manna from heaven! Bonzai!"

    Rises up out of water below them with his huge mouth filled to capacity with the little toys. Seconds later...

    "Ptew!" ..spits them out... "What kind of cruel fuckin' joke is this? Goddamn humans!"


  • Just toys? (Score:4, Funny)

    by I Like Swords!!! ( 668399 ) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @01:41PM (#6424267)
    Now when hundreds of thousands bundles of unmarked cash in nice vacuum-packed plastic wrap start washing on shore... lemme know, k?
    • It's happened (Score:5, Interesting)

      by spineboy ( 22918 ) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @09:37PM (#6425797) Journal
      My Grandparents were in Florida about 15 years ago taking a walk on the beach, when they saw a crowd of people gathered. Some smuggling boat had broken up and it's contents had washed up on shore.

      The contents were 1) Plastic wrapped bags of money, and 2) Large plastic wrapped bales of pot.

      Unfortunately, the US Customs agents had also heard of it too and were preventing people from taking "souvenirs".

      • Actually, that was a genuine source of income for many of the time. I had a friend whose cousin had moved to the keys to become a "baler." Basically a baler is a person who makes a living from gathering and selling the bales that would wash up on the shore - a high risk pot dealer.

        Had another friend (we were both kids in jr. high) who stole a briefcase from the seat of a jeep and discovered it was full of money. I don't know what he did with it (I know he didn't keep it) but when the people who owned the b

        • Ahm, you're sure you understand the difference between stealing a wallet out of a car and collecting abandoned flotsam? And the difference in people's reaction towards you when doing it?
      • A friend of mine says people on the coast in florida refer to this as "winning the lottery" or that they went fishing and caught a "square grouper."

        (Grouper being a fish for the sea-life challenged among us.)
  • by Demodian ( 658895 ) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @02:24PM (#6424449)
    Now appearing at your local Red Lobster... Rubber Duck Chowder... Fillet of Rubber Duck... Rubber Duck Scampi... all under $10
  • Ducky Derby time!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SolemnDragon ( 593956 ) <solemndragon AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday July 12, 2003 @03:17PM (#6424664) Homepage Journal
    Here in Boston, we race them, and i know that this happens in other states, too (the KenDucky Derby being one of them) usually they are held as fundraisers for nonprofit organisations. Here in Boston the ducky theme's been prevalent ever since Make Way For Ducklings, so nobody's surprised to see duckies washing down the Charles River with numbers painted on the sides...

    They string nets right across the top of the river, though, so that the duckies can't escape. (And the duckies are actually rented most of the time, which really makes it bizarre... So i guess it's time for another ocean duckie race!!! quick, somebody head out there and number the ducks...

  • AFLAC! (Score:3, Funny)

    by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @04:12PM (#6424850)
    Or was that Affleck? I often confuse these two almost-lifelike media characters.
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Saturday July 12, 2003 @04:15PM (#6424871)
    This is not the first such monster attack against New England. I recall something like this reported on a Cincinatti radio station during the 1970's:

    "Monster lizard ravages East Coast! Mayors in five New England cities have issued emergency requests for federal disaster relief as a result of a giant lizard that descended on the East Coast last night! Officials say that this lizard, the worst since '78, has devastated transportation, disrupted communication and left many hundreds homeless!"

    (Les Nessman reporting)

  • Why don't they put GPS devices on the ducks so they can track their paths the whole way?
    • Re:Use GPS (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's a rubber bath toy. Strap a GPS unit to the thing and it sinks.

      Are you volunteering to strap GPS units to thousands of rubber ducks? Didn't think so.

    • Re:Use GPS (Score:3, Informative)

      by SEWilco ( 27983 )
      Why don't they put GPS devices on the ducks so they can track their paths the whole way?
      • If they caught all the ducks so they could instrument them...they should, and would, keep them and remove that debris.
      • Scientists already have floating instruments (some drift under the surface) which are measuring currents. The identifiable debris is just an accidental addition to such information.
      • You keep changing the batteries on those things.
      • Don't forget a transmitter on each duck. More power needed. Or else
  • I wonder how many of these duckies are eaten by marine animals. Not many fish teach their children to not eat rubber duckies.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I really should take up this beachcombing thing. I mean, can you imagine how cool it'd be if I found something from this []ship that was washed up on the beach!
  • by treat ( 84622 ) on Sunday July 13, 2003 @04:45PM (#6429632)
    Ten thousand! With no responsibility for leaving behind a hazard. The cost of insurance seems to be cheaper than actually tying these things down.

    I wonder if money can be made by salvaging abandoned containers. Is this legal, or once it's rescued will you just have the contents taken from you?
  • Terrorists can plot (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 )
    I can see it now: some goofball terrorist will plant anthrax or the like in a rubber duck and it will travel the world without them having to step a single foot on a boat or plane, and suddenly there will be a duck panic.

    Batman villians used to seem silly until the likes of Osama popped up.
    • Or the Bush junta make Tony Blair fill them with the debris of some Iraqi equipment and then claims to have found the WMD.

      Mad villains in high offices used to seem "not from the western world" until GWB seized power in the USA.
  • Some friends were on a research expedition to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands and found this bottle, [] which had been adrift 15 years from Japan. Does anyone know Emi Komasu?

"Hey Ivan, check your six." -- Sidewinder missile jacket patch, showing a Sidewinder driving up the tail of a Russian Su-27