Storm At Aea

Objective:

It has been said that taking our journey through life is like the explorers of old when they were exploring a new continent or territory. They didn’t know where they were going or even have a map to guide them. In fact, they are the ones that had to create the map as they went along. Creating a trail for others to follow. The accuracy of the map really depended on how good the map maker at was explaining where the rivers and mountains are located. What landmarks were available for them to identify and the hazards to avoid. This blog is your map to help you be successful at navigating your own life to become the person you want to become. This blog is a journey not a destination. You are the destination!


Creating a Meaningful Life
A news story caught my eye and imagination and want to tie this concept into this Blog Post. This is about the voyage we all experience. It is about of information we pick up along the way. It is about the education to improve our knowledge those, “ah ha moments” that come to each of us. My new book soon to be released, UNDER THE INFLUENCE: The Secrets to Living a Meaningful Life – family, career, spirituality, and friendship. We explore subjects like Universal Laws and why the energy of that field is all around us is part of our knowledge base and communication system. We looked at the science of how we create and use the power of that energy in our life to do uncommon things should we choose to employ it. We scrutinized how massagers and messages show up in our life to teach us, guide us, and offer change. The book is filled with ancient information that seem like secrets but are right here in plain sight and has been for thousands of years. This writing, along with principles of science has helped us pieced together a map giving us knowledge of where to go, what to do, and the hazards to avoid as we are in search of creating the meaningful life we desire.

Perhaps our journey puts us in new unfamiliar territory, we may not know where we are going but we have a better idea of how we might get there. Let me share a most incredible journey that changed the course of history.

On January 10, 1992, a storm at sea in the Pacific Ocean set-in motion one of the largest and most unusual studies into global ocean currents. These unlikely sojourners were aboard a freighter traveling from China to America was caught up in the storm, which tipped the vessel into what I like to call the “Uh-Oh Zone.” The less than favorable maneuver saw several shipping containers unceremoniously dumped into the waters, one of which contained a consignment of 28,800 bath toys.

The toys were plastic-wrapped on mounted cardboard, and each contained a yellow duck, a red beaver, a green frog, and a blue turtle made by The First Years company. The jolly characters burst forth from their shipping container, possibly due to its doors being opened by a collision with one of the other lost containers. It’s suspected a combination of soaking in salty water and being jostled about by currents and waves set the quartets free from their packaging. The toys were designed without any holes so successfully bobbed to the surface.

Scientists could never ethically dump tens of thousands of plastic toys into the ocean, but the accidental release of so many toys represented an opportunity too fortuitous to miss out on. Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer employed the help of beachcombers to map the progress of these unlikely heroes in the story. Previously, drift bottles have been used to study ocean currents, but their deployment is normally capped at 1,000 bottles, many of which may never be seen again. A bumper crop of 28,800 ocean current trackers was therefore a boon for oceanography as it would likely return much more data. In our search to find the secrets to creating a meaningful life, sometimes and unforeseen experience occurs with unintended consequences to create what is needed to bring about a meaningful life. Let’s look closer at the situation that gave our wandering cast a role in their meaningful life.

The media cleverly named the rubber play toys, “The Friendly Floatees.”  They first began to wash up on the Alaskan coast towards the end of 1992, approximately 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) from their point of origin in China. A year went by and a further 400 followed suit, traveling to the eastern coast of the Gulf of Alaska. Each reported animal was entered into an Ocean Surface Currents Simulation (OSCAR), a computer model created by Curtis Ebbesmeyer and his colleague James Ingraham. The model combines data on air pressure and the speed and direction of weather systems to map the path of ocean current indicators, such as the seafaring rubber ducks. A book sprang from this event, “Moby-Duck,” by Donovan Hohn. A very detailed account of the event and the fascinating history behind this unintended event.

OSCAR successfully predicted the direction of the Friendly Floatees, which arrived in Washington state a couple of years later. Those that remained seaworthy drifted toward Japan and back to Alaska and some even made their way to the Bering Strait where they were frozen in Arctic ice. Ebbesmeyer estimated it would take several years for the Friendly Floatees to work their way across the Pole before the warmer climate of the Greenland Sea broke up the ice and set them free.

By 2007, bleached white by their journey but some still sporting “The First Years” branding that identified them, a small number began washing up on the south-western shores of the UK. It’s possible that there are still Friendly Floatees at sea to this day, whether caught up in one of the ocean’s great garbage patches or having washed up on shores where there are no people, or their significance is unknown.

The varied journeys of the bath toys taught oceanographers a lot about the connectedness of our seas. Ebbesmeyer coined the term ‘Flotsametrics” for these plastic animals, as they were a means of understanding the movements of flotsam (discarded items in the ocean). The story helped researchers’ piece together a clearer picture of how the sea works, inspired a book, and even earned a spot in David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II.

Ocean science by leaps and bounds since the charismatic quartet first began their journey in 1992. They’ve since been replaced by drifting buoys equipped with GPS tracking devices that have allowed researchers to analyze and map the most likely path of plastic waste inhabiting these oceans. This map can now show the most likely journey of trash dropped from your chosen location, which is signified, fittingly, by a rubber duck. Clearly these rubber ducks did not set out to create a meaningful life. The forces of nature working together with some of the science discussed in this book were them to assist our multicolored travelers on their journey.

Today, we know there are as many as 11 major gyres across the world’s oceans, and all of them are potential vestibules for the world’s trash. And if the Friendly Floatees are an example for anything, it’s that plastic trash endures for a very long time and that it’s a global issue.

“The ones washing up in Alaska after 30 years are still in pretty good shape,” added Ebbesmeyer, who still keeps track of the duckies.

The Ducks’ Journey

Since that fabled day in 1992 when they were unceremoniously abandoned at sea, the yellow ducks have bobbed halfway around the world. Some have washed up on the shores of Hawaii, Alaska, South America, Australia, and the Pacific Northwest; others have been found frozen in Arctic ice. Still others have somehow made their way as far as Scotland and Newfoundland in the Atlantic.

People still send pictures of the ducks they find on beaches all over the world,” said Curtis Ebbesmeyer, a retired oceanographer and Floatee enthusiast. “I’m able to tell quickly if they are from this batch. He had one from the U.K. which he believes is genuine. A photograph of it was sent by a woman judge in Scotland.”

The North Pacific Gyre
Perhaps the most famous Floatees, though, are the 2,000 of them that still circulate in the currents of the North Pacific Gyre — a vortex of currents that stretches between Japan, southeast Alaska, Kodiak, and the Aleutian Islands that the plight of the duckies helped to identify.

“We always knew that this gyre existed. But until the ducks came along, we didn’t know how long it took to complete a circuit,” said Ebbesmeyer. “It was like knowing that a planet is in the solar system but not being able to say how long it takes to orbit. Well, now we know exactly how long it takes: about three years.”

Today the North Pacific Gyre is also home to what has been called the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, a massive island of floating debris, mostly plastic, that the gyre stirs like a giant pot of trashy soup. Though the rubber ducks have helped raise awareness about the gyre, most of what makes up the garbage patch is hardly so cute. Most of it consists of tiny plastic fragments and chemical sludge, but just about anything discarded that floats can be found there.

Some of the trash got there the same way the rubber duckies did, via lost shipping crates. Though no one knows exactly how many shipping containers are lost at sea every year, oceanographers put the figure at anything from several hundred to 10,000 a year, a startling estimate, though still only a tiny part of a global trash problem.

“I’ve heard tales of containers getting lost that are full of those big plastic bags that dry cleaners use,” said Donovan Hohn, an author of a book called “Moby-Duck,” which immortalizes the journey of the 28,800 rubber duckies. “I’ve also heard of crates full of cigarettes going overboard, which of course end up having their butts ingested by marine animals. In fact, one of the endnotes in my book lists the contents of a dead whale’s belly: it was full of trash. Plastic pollution is a real problem.”

Today we know there are as many as 11 major gyres across the world’s oceans, and all of them are potential vestibules for the world’s trash. And if the Friendly Floatees are an example for anything, it’s that plastic trash endures for a very long time and that it’s a global issue.

“The ones washing up in Alaska after 30 years are still in pretty good shape,” added Ebbesmeyer, who still keeps track of the duckies.

Today that flotilla of plastic ducks is being hailed for revolutionizing our understanding of ocean currents, as well as for teaching us a thing or two about plastic pollution in the process.

One of the bath toys even landed in Scotland and it’s thought that today as many as 2000 remain at sea spiraling around in circular currents called ‘gyres’, still sometimes landing on shores from Alaska to Japan.

In 1992, a cargo ship container tumbled into the North Pacific, dumping 28,800 rubber ducks and other bath toys that were headed from China to the U.S. Currents took them, and news reports said some may have eventually reached Maine and other shores on the Atlantic.

Thirteen years later, journalist Donovan Hohn undertook a mission that unintendedly became a meaningful life for himself and hundreds of others. He wanted to track the movements of the wayward ducks, from the comfort of his own living room.

He said, “I figured I’d interview a few oceanographers, talk to a few beachcombers, read up on ocean currents and Arctic geography and then write an account of the incredible journey of the bath toys lost at sea,” he tells Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies. “And all this I would do, I hoped, without leaving my desk.”
But Hohn’s research led him on an odyssey that took him from Seattle to Alaska to Hawaii — and then onto China and the Arctic. He details the journey — via plane, foot, and container ship — in 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.

Some of the ducks, says Hohn, made their way to the coast of Gore Point, Alaska, a remote isthmus at the southern tip of Kachemak Bay State Park. Hohn obtained his own rubber duck after visiting the isthmus with the Gulf of Alaska Keeper, a group of conservationists who wanted to clean up the debris along the coast. “They set out on a pretty heroic undertaking, because to get this [ocean debris] out of the wilderness required 2 to 3 months of people camping and packing [the debris] up in a bag, and eventually an airlift,” he says. “But while I was out there with them, toys were found. I found a plastic beaver. And another beachcomber found a duck and had mercy — he gave it to me.”

The Plague of Plastic in The Ocean
While tracking down the path of the rogue ducks, Hohn also confronted the plague of accumulating plastics in the ocean.

He said, “When I set out following these toys, I didn’t expect it to turn into an environmental story, but I very quickly learned … that unlike the flotsam of ages past, the flotsam of today — much of it plastic — persists,” he says, “It lasts visibly for decades and chemically for centuries because it doesn’t biodegrade.” By following this trail of garbage this once-upon-a-time news story a meaningful life for many people, as well as creating a global impact.

There are certain parts of the ocean where currents converge and spiral inward, collecting what’s floating on the surface, Hohn says. Called convergence zones or “garbage patches,” these parts of the ocean contain trash, plastic, and toys — whatever happens to get sucked in while floating past.

Hohn explains, “When I first heard the phrase ‘garbage patch,’ I imagined something dense,” he says. “I initially imagined it as a floating junkyard, and you’d have to poke your way through it with a paddle if you’re in a kayak. But it’s not like that. You can’t take a picture of it because that doesn’t exist. What does exist is a whole lot of plastic out there, but it’s spread out over millions of miles of ocean. And some of it floats on the surface where you can find it. And some of it floats just below the surface. And eventually all of it will degrade, so much of it is so small you’re not going to be able to see it with the naked eye.”

These tiny pieces of plastic — and substances that adhere to the plastics — can then enter the food chain. “We know that in the marine food web, there is an alarmingly elevated contaminant burden in species at the top of the food web,” he says. “What role plastic plays in that is an ongoing area of study.”

As cute as the rubber duckies are…there is no psychology or brain matter inside these plastic toys. They have no volition or intention for their actions, thoughts, and behaviors…they simply have none. Yet the phenomena still exist. Science explains that there are no barriers to consciousness. It simply is there, throughout the known universe. I believe that this phenomenon and this story illustrates an important point…sometimes we cannot foresee the things that will come into play to contribute to the journey to our meaningful life. We are along for the ride…this story wouldn’t have happened had Donovan Hohn not decided and then followed through on the decision, it may never have become a reality. It is the same for us all…if you don’t decide to create your own meaningful life, then act on that decision we may never know what forces are standing by waiting to support us!

Perhaps we may feel like the rubber duckies afloat in the in the sea being driven by the tides and currents. Not knowing where we are, uncertain of where to go or how to get there. First, we need to remember life is an uncertain journey. To get to our meaningful life we need to decide what a meaningful life entails for each of us. Is our highest priority who we are as a person? Is it our career that contributes to our well-being? Our meaningful life might be more spirituality driven. Perhaps it provides more satisfaction through our relationships and friendships. It is not for me to say what a meaningful life for you. That is your choice and for you to create and bring into your reality! I have heard it said that anyone can guide the ship in calm water. It is more challenging and requires more skill and experience when the sea is choppy and not as calm. Use your experience and trust your intuition!

Endnote
Hohn, Donovan (March 2011). 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. ISBN 9780670022199.

RECAP:
1) This story is about creating a meaningful life.
2) On January 10, 1992, a storm at sea in the Pacific Ocean set-in motion one of the largest and most unusual studies into global ocean currents.
3) Several shipping containers unceremoniously dumped into the waters, one of which contained a consignment of 28,800 bath toys.
4) Previously, drift bottles have been used to study ocean currents, but their deployment is normally capped at 1,000 bottles, many of which may never be seen again. A bumper crop of 28,800 ocean current trackers was therefore a boon for oceanography as it would likely return much more data.
5) 1992, approximately 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) from their point of origin in China.
6) A year went by and a further 400 followed suit, traveling to the eastern coast of the Gulf of Alaska.
7) Each reported animal was entered into an Ocean Surface Currents Simulation (OSCAR), a computer model created by Curtis Ebbesmeyer and his colleague James Ingraham.
8) OSCAR successfully predicted the direction of the Friendly Floatees, which arrived in Washington state a couple of years later.
9) By 2007, bleached white by their journey but some still sporting “The First Years” branding that identified them, a small number began washing up on the south-western shores of the UK.
10) still Friendly Floatees at sea to this day, whether caught up in one of the ocean’s great garbage patches or having washed up on shores where there are no people, or their significance is unknown.
11) Ocean science by leaps and bounds since the charismatic quartet first began their journey in 1992.
12) What does exist is a whole lot of plastic out there, but it’s spread out over millions of miles of ocean.
13) One of the bath toys even landed in Scotland and it’s thought that today as many as 2000 remain at sea spiraling around in circular currents called ‘gyres’, still sometimes landing on shores from Alaska to Japan.
14) These tiny pieces of plastic — and substances that adhere to the plastics — can then enter the food chain. “We know that in the marine food web, there is an alarmingly elevated contaminant burden in species at the top of the food web,” he says. “What role plastic plays in that is an ongoing area of study.”

There is hope for us all…Breaking Out of the Box is a way of changing, a way of creating the best version of ourselves. It is a way of breaking down the walls and barriers we have created for ourselves. It is a way of accomplishing your dreams, your desires, and all that you hoped could happen. In these blogs, I will explore, not only the reasons why, but also the tips, tricks, and solutions you need to break out of the box you have built which is keep you from progressing. You are encouraged to subscribe to the Breaking Out of the Box Blog. You can get more information or subscribe to the blog at Thought Genius.

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