Weird Nature
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Remembering The Time 28,000 Rubber Duck Toys Spilled Into The Ocean

Updated July 30, 2020 10.5k views12 items

The oceans are among the most mysterious and amazing places left on the planet that scientists still have yet to fully explore. Unfortunately, they suffer from a variety of different threats every year, with one of the biggest being the dumping of plastic and other pollutants into the water. A lot of this happens when cargo shipping containers are lost at sea during bad weather and in one particular instance over 28,000 Friendly Floatees duck toys were plunged into the Pacific Ocean.

The story of these rubber duckies lost at sea garnered international attention when the plastic toys began appearing on shores all around the world. They were recently brought back to attention in the last few years with the release of Donovan Hohn’s book Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea. It delves into the tale of these rubber ducks lost in ocean currents but also explains how they were able to travel around the world and the role they played in helping researchers understand how the Earth’s seas behave.

  • The Ducks Inspired Multiple Children's Books

    As might be expected, 28,000+ rubber ducks adrift at sea was good inspiration for a number of books aimed at children. In 2004 Ducky by Caldecott award winner Eve Bunting was published by Sandpiper, and the next year 10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle was published by Harper Collins. 

  • It Was The Basis For A Disney Movie

    Clearly there was some creative power to these rubber ducks, as even Disney wanted to get in on the action. Inspired by the travails of rubber ducks lost at sea, the Disney Channel and Disney Junior created Lucky Duck, a CGI film loosely based on the Friendly Floatees. It premiered back in June of 2014 but you can still watch the 40-minute film on Amazon. 

  • The Ducks Have Become Highly Prized As Collector’s Items

    The fact that many of the ducks were never recovered means that they have become collector’s items. Many of the toys either sunk into the water or became trapped in arctic ice, stopping them from reaching shores where they could be snapped up by anyone passing by. This prompted the American distributor of the toys to offer a $100 for each duck, while sellers have been known to fetch up to $1,000 when putting them on the open market.

  • It Happens More Often Than You Might Think

    Shipping containers being lost overboard on huge transport boats is not unusual. In 2014, the World Shipping Council carried out a survey and found that at least 2,683 containers were lost at sea every year. However, they believe the actual figure may be much larger, with many of the missing containers not being reported to authorities. Toys are one of the most common items to be found washing up on shores, such as in 1997 when a shipment containing over a million Lego pieces was lost, as they are often made of plastic and are buoyant enough to float.