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How Rubber Ducks Reveal the Ocean Currents

In 1992, 28,000 rubber ducks were plunged into the ocean after a shipping crate was lost at sea on its way to the US from Hong Kong.

At the time it was put down as a commercial loss and soon forgotten, yet years later the rubber ducks are now seen as a vital tool in our understanding of ocean currents, as well as teaching us about pollution, according to Mother Nature Network.

After being dunked in the Pacific Ocean, the ducks made it halfway around the world, washing up on the shores of Hawaii, Alaska, South America, Australia as well as the Pacific Northwest.

Some ducks were even found frozen in Arctic ice, while other ducks made their way as far as Scotland.

The ducks are now known as the “Friendly Floatees” by researchers who have tracked their progress over the years.

This map details the extent of the ducks travels:

Source: Wikimedia Commons / NordNordWest

2,000 of the ducks circulate the currents of the North Pacific Gyre – a vortex of currents which stretches between Japan, Alaska, Kodiak and the Aleutian Islands – that the plight of the duckies helped to identify.

Researchers now know that it takes a current three years to circulate the full current by monitoring the ducks’ progress.

Furthermore, the ducks also brought attention to a huge garbage patch which has formed in the North Pacific Gyre, furthering evidence that ocean trash forms in the ocean’s gyres. .

The Friendly Floatees are still washing up to this day and have been the feature of a book chronicling their journey entitled Moby Duck.

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