On January 29, 1992, a ship carrying crates of rubber ducks made from a Chinese factory from Hong Kong to the United States ran into a storm in the Pacific and three 40-foot containers fell into the ocean. Two-thirds of them floated south through the tropics and landed on the shores of Indonesia, Australia, and South America within a few months. About 10,000 headed north and landed in Alaska before heading west.

The toys, called “Friendly Floatees” in the U.S. are still floating out in the ocean, making journeys all over the world. About 30,000 of the bath toys are left 15 years later including yellow ducks, green frogs, blue turtles, and red beavers. Some are expected to reach Britain after a 17,000 mile journey through the Arctic Ocean frozen in pack ice, past Greenland and down the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Others who made it through currents, icebergs, and strong winds have reached the Atlantic on the Gulf Stream. It took three years for them to circle Japan, past the original site where they plunged into the ocean, and back to Alaska before heading into the Arctic. Those trapped in the ice are said to move one mile per day towards the Atlantic.

Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an American oceanographer has been tracking the ducks on their 15 year journey. They have been said to be beneficial in helping researchers chart large ocean currents because they are easier to detect than the floats that scientists normally use. The maker of the toys, The First Years Inc., announced in 2000 that a reward would be offered for anyone who finds one of the toys. First Years will offer 50 pounds or $100 to anyone who returns a duck to them. However, they have become large collector’s items, selling for as much as $1000 between collectors. Two children’s books have been written about them as well.

The toys have been hard to find in the last two years, but the way to tell is if the toys have faded to white and have the words ‘The First Years’ stamped on them. Also, the plastic is said to be able to last 100 years, and with all of the ocean dangers they have survived, there is a chance that some could reach the 100 year mark.

For related articles visit http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,287759,00.html and http://www.travelmail.co.uk/article/article_page.html?article_id=27855.

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