They were toys destined only to bob up and down in nothing than a child's bath - but so far they have floated halfway around the world. Boxes of the bathtime toys - made in China for the United States firm The First Years Inc - were washed overboard in the Eastern Pacific Ocean one stormy January night in 1992 and broke open. The shipment of 29,000 rubber bathtub toys, including ducks, beavers, turtles and frogs have traveled 17,000 miles.
Floating across the sea, landing in Hawaii and spending years frozen in an Arctic ice pack, while others have made their way through the Bering Strait, past icebergs, around the Northern coast of Greenland and into the Atlantic Ocean. While the ducks are undoubtedly a loss to the bathtime fun of thousands of children, their adventures at sea proved an invaluable aid to science.
The toys have helped researchers to chart the great ocean currents because when spotted bobbing on the waves they are much more likely to be reported to the authorities then the floats which scientists normally use.
And because the toys are made of durable plastic and are sealed watertight, they have been able to survive years adrift at the mercy of the elements.
Eric Carle could not resist making a story out of this newspaper report. And neither could I.