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Moby Duck: 04/03/15

cover art

Moby Duck by Donovan Hohn is the Pacific Ocean's answer to Charlie Connelly's Attention All Shipping (LINK). Both start with a simple concept and turn into a mixture of travelog, memoir, and social essay.

In the 1990s, a container ship was hit by a wave and dropped some of its cargo, namely 28,000 (at best count) bath toys: ducks, beavers, frogs, and turtles. The ocean managed to force open the crates. The salt water dissolved the cardboard packaging, The ocean currents did the rest.

Their path took the toys into the Arctic Circle where they got trapped in the ice later began washing up on Alaskan shores. Many years later reports surfaced of sun bleached bath toys showing up on Eastern Seaboard beaches.

Hohn's book started as an exploration of the currents, the trash eddies, and climatology. It morphed into a study of container shipping (and just how much stuff is probably lost overboard but left unreported). The book includes interviews of people who found the toys as well as thoughts on how the hunt for them brought people together.

While interesting, I wanted more from the book. The book would have been stronger with photographs: the actual toys, the people interviewed, etc. It also needed more maps and infographics. The book is basically crying for illustrations.

Three stars

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