The great shipwreck of rubber ducks


The year was 1992, a new decade began. Near the Aleutian Islands, between Canada and Asia, we find the setting of this story. Since ancient sailors termed this area the Graveyard of the Pacific. It is not surprising, the oceanographers know that area as a “subarctic front“, an area characterized by strong winds and waves over 10 meters high.

That January 10, Ever Laurel ship from the Greek company Technomar Shipping with a cargo of the Taiwanese company Evergreen Marine Corporation had sailed just four days before from Hong Kong harbor. That January 10 a storm in the Pacific Ocean made ​​twelve containers fell into the sea, releasing its load.

Thousands (around 28,800) of plastic bath toys manufactured for babies went overboard: yellow ducks, green frogs, red beavers and blue turtles were washed ashore. Through the years this rubber animals started to appear around the world. But to date have not recovered all of them.


Scientist “take profit” of this event.  Scientist as Dr Curtis Ebbensmeyer and Jim Ingraham studied this event, collecting data in order to learn more about the different ocean currents.

decoloredtoys Curtis Ebbesmeyer







In the beginning this oceanic currents were studied with buoys equipped with expensive satellite tracking devices (1,600 euros each). Due to the cost, it is not possible deploy a large number of them.


The wreck of plastic toys was not the only one. Another famous (and reported) wrecks are: in 1990 about 80,000 Nike sneakers fell in the middle of North Pacific, in 1994 about 34,000 hockey gloves and 20,000 sandals fell in the Pacific coast of Hawaii, in 1997 near 5 million Lego pieces fell into the Atlantic and 500,000 beer cans fell in the Pacific ocean.

In the book Moby Duck, the journalist Donovan Hohn explain in detail the rubber duck wreck.



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