Hundreds of rubber ducks and other bathtub toys are expected to start washing up on the beaches of England in the next few weeks. They have been lost at sea for 15 years.
In 1992, a ship en route from Hong Kong to the U.S. spilled 29,000 floating toys into the Pacific Ocean during a storm. Ever since, retired oceanographer and flotsam fancier Curtis Ebbesmeyer of Seattle has been tracking their incredible journey, which provides clues about ocean currents. One group has been circling aimlessly in the north Pacific, while other groups have taken alternative routes. Even when the toys get punctured, they’re practically unsinkable.
Thanks to constant exposure to sunshine, the once-yellow rubber ducks have faded to white. But Ebbesmeyer says the turtles and frogs have retained their color. He would like to hear from anyone who finds one of the lost toys (write to firstname.lastname@example.org).—Dawn Stover