Monday, July 24, 2006

The travelling frog

A plastic frog bath toy has drifted 10,000 miles from the Pacific Ocean to a Scottish beach.

One of 28,000 washed overboard from a cargo ship in 1992, it is the first to arrive in Europe.
The movement of the thousands of plastic frogs, ducks and turtles is being used by scientists to track ocean currents.

The toys' 14-year odyssey is being taken so seriously by oceanographers that they are offering $100 (£54) for any more washed up in Europe. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer who runs the website, said: "Who'd have thought it? Bathtime critters have given us a new science."

Thousands more of the toys are expected to hit the UK and Europe in the next few months - with Cornwall tipped as the most likely landfall.

The Scottish frog was washed up on Uig Sands on the Isle of Lewis and found by Sonali Naik, an English barrister. It is thought it broke away from a circular current, known as a gyre, well before the rest of the consignment.

The toys were in a container washed off a Hong Kong to New York freighter. Many are still thought to be circling in a sub-polar gyre in the north Pacific.

Others crossed the Bering Straits into the Arctic in the mid-1990s and became stuck in slow-moving ice for six years, before making their way round Canada and Greenland to Scotland.


yellowdog granny said...

isnt that litering on an oceanic platform??

dom said...

It wasn't deliberate , it fell off a ship, a bit like all that oil from the Exxon Valdez