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What Happened to the “Friendly Floatees” in 1992?

By Kevin Hellyer
Updated May 17, 2024
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In January 1992, a shipment of rubber ducks and other bath toys left Hong Kong and headed for Tacoma, Washington. But the container ship ran into a nasty storm in the North Pacific Ocean, near the International Date Line, and 12 containers were washed overboard. One of them contained 28,800 Friendly Floatees – plastic bath toys for children in the shape of ducks, beavers, frogs, and turtles. Ten months later, the first Floatees showed up along the Alaskan coast, and over the years the toys have landed all over the world, from Australia to the Arctic.

Sailing the Friendly Floatee seas:

  • Some of the toys traveled more than 17,000 miles (27,000 km), floating in the North Atlantic, being frozen in Arctic ice, and eventually showing up along the east coast of the United States and the UK in 2007.

  • The accident provided a fascinating scientific study for oceanographers, who used computer models to predict where the rubber duckies might show up next.

  • Any Floatee that shows up these days has been bleached by sun and seawater. The ducks and beavers have faded to white, but the turtles and frogs have kept their original colors, researchers say.

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