Trivia

Hard

An Accidental Spill Of What Has Led To A 30 Year Oceanographic Study?

Radioactive Waste
Crude Oil
Rubber Ducks
Packing Peanuts
Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer posing with flotsam he uses to monitor ocean currents.
Rick Rickman/Wikimedia

Answer: Rubber Ducks

In 1992, twelve shipping containers were washed off of a freighter enroute from Hong Kong to the United States. Among the containers washed off the ship was one packed with a delivery for The First Years, Inc. (formerly Kiddie Products, Inc.)—thousands of rubber ducks, frogs, turtles, and beaver bath toys.

Unlike most bath toys, the Friendly Floatees line of toys from The First Years had no drainage holes and were thus completely water tight—leaving them to float on indefinitely unless damaged. Two Seattle-based oceanographers—Curtis Ebbesmeyer, seen here, and James Ingraham—jumped on the odd event as the opportunity of a lifetime.

In normal oceanographic drift pattern studies, 500-1,000 drift bottles are released. The spill of bath toys represented an unprecedented opportunity to track ocean currents as a whopping 28,800 of them had spilled out of the damaged cargo container. Within ten months, the bath toys began washing up on the shores of islands off the coast of Alaska. Curious beach combers and school children have been recovering them around the world ever since.

The high recovery rate and the large distances the bath toys have traveled have played a critical role in both the refinement of theories surrounding ocean currents and movement as well as in raising awareness about environmental conditions and the interconnectivity of the world’s oceans.

Trivia

Very Hard

For Centuries Wine Was Flavored With What Toxic Compound?

Trivia

Easy

How Do Astronauts Cast Their Votes From Space?

Trivia

Easy

Fireworks Originated In Which Country?

Trivia

Hard

Best Known For Lightbulbs, Phonographs, And Film, Thomas Edison Also Invented?

Trivia

Hard

Juicy Fruit Gum Was Most Likely Originally Flavored With?

Trivia

Hard

Which TV Show Was Originally Pitched As “Wagon Train to the Stars”?

Trivia

Hard

Which Children’s TV Show Used The Unreal Engine For Virtual Sets?

Trivia

Very Hard

The Longest Tunnel In The World Is Located In?

Trivia

Hard

What Was The First Modern Web Search Engine?

Trivia

Very Hard

The First Vehicular Combat Video Game Was?