How 28.800 yellow plastic ducks helped scientists understand ocean currents
A maritime accident, a container that fell into the sea and a magical voyage that lasted almost 25 years
Many scientific discoveries are due to chance or even funny incidents. Perhaps the most typical example is the birth of its meaning gravity, when an apple fell on Newton who was studying under the apple tree.
And now this otherwise cute story may be disputed by historians, however, everyone knows that the discovery of something so great may be the product of hard and arduous work but it came from an accident like the fall of an apple from the tree.
A similar story is of course the famous "Eureka" who shouted naked while running in the streets Archimedes when in the baths he discovered the well-known Principle of Ascension!
Random and είναι cute is the understanding of scientists about how currents move in the oceans with the long journey of thousands of plastic yellow ducks.
No. There is nothing wrong with the previous sentence. The cute little toys that are the joy of young children in bathtubs can. Be proud to have contributed to the understanding of a phenomenon that for many decades has been a puzzle for scientists.
In January 1992, The First Years Inc. has given to factory in Hong Kong a huge order for plastic toys from the ones that young children play in the bathtubs of their homes.
The order included 28.800 red beavers, green frogs, blue turtles and especially the favorite and. Famous yellow ducks. The toys were packed, placed in cartons and these in turn were placed in hundreds in containers which were loaded on the container ship "Ever Laurel" with a final destination on United States.
The voyage of the huge ship, however, did not end well. In the north Pacific Ocean fell in a storm. The ripples were great. The cargo shifted and many of the containers were found at sea.
The storm was great and either because the ship itself hit them, or because they hit each other, many of the container opened with the result that their contents were found in the stormy waters.
Days later the cartons began to melt and the toys were released. The point, however, with these toys is that they are made so that they do not sink and somehow began a journey that lasted about 25 years!
No one at first suspected that such a development could take place. Everything changed, however, when about 10 months after the Hong Kong container ship accident, the first ducklings appeared on the shore of a seaside resort in Alaska.
Ten months later and about 2.000 miles from where the accident happened! It took a few days for everyone to understand exactly what they are and where all these ducklings come from. The most important thing, however, is that this seemingly funny story caught the eyes of some scientists.
From the coasts of Hawaii, Alaska, South America, Australia to the Northwest Pacific. Strange as it may sound, the journey of the yellow plastic ducks lasted for about 25 years and covered almost half of the planet as toys were found even on the west coast of Europe and specifically in United Kingdom.
Many have been found "frozen" in Arctic ice, while others have reached as far as Scotland and Newfoundland. Atlantic.
They crossed the Bering Strait (the easternmost point in Asia that "meets" the westernmost point of the American continent) in 1995. Then, they reached Arctic Ocean. In the process, they were trapped in the ice for five years.
At one point they passed by Greenland. In 2001 they had arrived in Iceland and passed over the spot where he sank Titanic in the Atlantic.
"Struck" by the sun and the sea water, the last ducks and the last beavers that were found on a beach had turned white. In contrast, turtles and frogs had retained their original colors.
When the story of the πα travel ducks became known, two oceanographers from Seattle, Curtis Ebbesmeyer and James Ingraham, considered the case to be "bread" and began to follow their course with the apparent goal of discovering everything that scientists do not know. for the movement of ocean currents.
Until that day, oceanographers were studying ocean currents using the classic του bottle method, and it was a given that plastic yellow ducks would give them a better result in an unprecedented massive experiment.
And indeed the study of this strange journey of plastic ducks gave a lot of new information to the studies of scientists.
Indicatively to mention that the data from the studies that were done, were "loaded" in the special computer system Ocean Surface Currents Simulation created by James Ingraham as early as 1967 to calculate the direction and speed of the wind in the oceans and the consequent surface currents.
The new data significantly improved the image of fishermen in those waters to locate large flocks of fish but mainly helped rescue and rescue teams to calculate the possible course of people or even small boats lost in sea!
"I have a website where various people post photos of ducks found on beaches around the world," said Curtis Ebbesmeyer, now retired a few years ago.
"The most famous ducklings are the 2.000 that are still circulating in the North Pacific - a whirlpool that stretches between Japan, southeastern Alaska, Kodiak and the Aleutian Islands. We have always known the 11 currents of the oceans, and especially this great Pacific, but until the ducks came we did not know how long it took to complete a cycle. It was like knowing that a planet is in the solar system but you can not say how long it takes to orbit. "Well, now we know exactly how long it takes: about three years," Ebbesmeyer said.