Daily Archives: May 6, 2011

** Moby-Duck by Donovan Hohn

One cold day in 1992, a container of bath toys went overboard in a freak storm over the Pacific. The toys (ducks and other creatures) floated all the way to Alaska, and perhaps beyond, and the author of Moby-Duck goes looking for them and how they managed to travel so far. Along the way we meet beachcombers and the very entertaining Beachcomber’s Alert! magazine, environmental organizations that compete for funding and dispute each other’s techniques and approaches, a blind oceanographer, and Canadian school children who write charming messages to be loaded into beer bottles, a technique that seems to be the best method we have now to test oceanic drifts.

This is a long and meandering book, and I loved part of it while I found others boring. I loved the tracking of the ducks, the description of the horrifying plastic pollution in Alaska, where some beaches are just covered with tiny pieces of colored plastic, loved the author’s voyage on a container ship and his adventures snorkelling off Hawaii (in the name of science, searching for plastic pollution!) I was bored by the descriptions of the Chinese toy factories and could not see the relevance of the trip through the Arctic, despite the beer bottles and the always whimsical thoughts of the author who says he fears the unknown, but managed to travel to very exotic locations for his research.

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