You may have heard the story about how a container ship was hit by a massive wave about 20 years ago and it dumped its cargo including about 5 million Legos into the ocean. They still wash up on shores in England and although they are ocean trash, people have been logging their finds and tracking the currents that bring to places.

In 1990, 80,000 Nikes went off a ship into the Pacific Ocean and beachcombers sometimes still find surprisingly well-preserved shoes along the shores of Washington and Oregon and Puget Sound.

Scientists have used buoys and markers for a long time to track currents but it was only recently that accidental markers started being used for research. These accidental research tools are in the form of Tommy Pickles cartoon heads, plastic turtles, rubber ducks, and 34,000 hockey gloves.

A Seattle-based oceanographer, Curtis Ebbesmeyer, keeps track online of what beachcombers find around the world.

Those Lego pieces have washed up in several areas of England and Ireland. Some unconfirmed reports say they have been found in Holland and as far as Australia. Some oceanographers say it is possible that one of those pieces has traveled around the world in the past two decades.

It is marine debris and that’s not good. It it can be used for some scientific research, that’s better. But as a kid who threw many a message-in-a-bottles into the Atlantic Ocean, I also find the voyages of the Legos and other spillage to be adventurous and Romantic.

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