Beachcombing finds; Bath toys on a journey

In January 1992, a cargo container carrying 29,000 bath toys was washed off a ship from Hong Kong bound for Washington, US. Ten months later, flotillas of plastic ducks, frogs, turtles and beavers began to appear bath duckson beaches in Sitka, Alaska. Many got caught up in the Subpolar Gyre, a current that runs from Sitka across the North Pacific to the far east of Russia and back again – a journey of 6,800 nautical miles. Over the past 16 years, the toys have continued to wash up in Alaska, but some have broken free and pitched up, faded white with exposure, in Hawaii and Maine. In 2003, a plastic frog made it all the way to the west coast of Scotland. Some of the toys are still thought to be in the water – giving oceanographers a unique way of studying the oceans’ currents.

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