10Sports FlyswattersMatt Weber: August 29, 2013 | 505,074 views
Thousands of accidental container spills occur in the Pacific Ocean every year, as loads and loads of commercial goods make their way from Asia to the West. While this lost cargo is seriously adding to the ocean’s pollution problem, there is one silver lining: it could make you the owner of a free, slightly beat-up fly swatter.
In 2012, residents of Kodiak, Alaska, became exactly that when they eagerly gathered up sports-themed fly swatters that were washing up by the dozens onto their beach. Both professional and collegiate teams were represented—ensuring that every kind of sports fan could plaster his or her favorite team with fly guts.
At first, the Alaskans thought that the swatters were debris from the previous year’s tsunami—but it later turned out that they came from a run-of-the-mill cargo ship, which had lost several containers after a rogue wave hit the vessel.
Of all the things to fall off a cargo ship, arguably the cutest was a crate of 28,000 rubber ducks and other bath toys. They went overboard in 1992, and beachcombers all over the world are still coming across the rubber ducks today—more than twenty years later.
Many of the toys have floated ashore, but there are still thousands of them bobbling through the high seas, following the ocean’s many currents and gyres. Although most people would prefer that 28,000 pollutants hadn’t entered the ocean, the toys have had a positive side effect in that they’ve revolutionized our understanding of ocean currents. The ducks were abandoned in the middle of the Pacific Ocean while on a voyage from Hong Kong to the United States, and they’ve since shown up in far off places like South America, Australia, Hawaii, Alaska, Scotland, Newfoundland, and the Atlantic. Some are even frozen in Arctic ice.
Most notably, tracking the duck’s movements enabled oceanographers to better understand the circuit of the North Pacific Gyre, and brought attention to the “ocean garbage patch” that lies within. It’s estimated that more than two thousand ducks are drifting amid the massive amount of trash and sludge that has been caught in the gyre’s currents.