Moby-Duck: Following the Bath Toys Lost at Sea


Last Updated on October 20, 2020

In 1992, during a rough storm at seas, a carton fell off a container ship heading from China to the U.S. and spilled its contents into the sea — 28,800 rubber bath toys.

Thirteen years later, a journalist became fixated by the story and decided to track down the rubber ducks lost at sea.

Donovan Hohn documents his search for the toys in his new book, “Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went In Search of Them.”

Hohn, whose work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, the New York Times and GQ, quit his job as a teacher to track down the toys. At first, he said it just seemed like one of those great anecdotes, and he couldn’t stop picturing those icons of childhood bobbing around the world’s oceans.

During his research, he dove into the world of currents, convergent zones (aka garbage patches) and the huge amount of plastic pollution on the world’s beaches.

Through an oceanographer, he learned the ducks were sometimes heading as far away as the Arctic Circle.

By tracking the duckies, he learned a powerful lesson about the world — either through currents and winds, we are all subtly connected to the rest of the world.