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Flotsam Science

You can learn a lot from floating junk

12:14pm, April 24, 2007

In January 1992, a freighter crossing the Pacific from Hong Kong to Tacoma, Wash., ran into rough weather near the International Date Line. As the ship heaved through the storm-tossed seas, several cargo containers on deck—including one filled with tens of thousands of plastic tub toys—came loose, fell overboard, and broke apart. Seven months after the spill, the plastic ducks, beavers, turtles, and frogs began washing up on beaches. Scientists who track ocean currents were ecstatic.

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