back to article Ghostly plastic bathtoy flotilla nears Cornish coast

Residents of the western UK and Irish coasts have been warned to expect an invasion by a vast flotilla of ghostly, immortal albino plastic ducks, according to reports. The tale of the floating, whitened bird-simulacra migration is a strange one, dating back many years. It seems that the plastic bathtime companions were …


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  1. this


    ..just lovely.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Enola Gay

    Imagine it is 1982 and you are in a band, a synthesiser pop band. You need a catchy name. How about "A Flotilla of Ghostly Plastic Bathtoys"? You'll go a long way.

  3. Mr D

    It would appear ...

    The ducks may be a bit brittle now.. however recently found "sun bleached beaver" from the same shipment has been discovered in the states....


  4. Andrew

    True Value

    Never mind selling them on the collectors' market there is, allegedly, a bounty just for reporting the place and time of arrival.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ducking the issue

    You are of course ducking the real issue in that because of freezing the ducktile nature of the plastic has now been degraded. If you had conduckted proper research you would also have found that these ducks are highly prized by bus, train and orchestra conducktors as lucky charms – much like a rabbit’s foot. In addition, after being melted down, they are also finding their way into heating systems to replace standard metal duckting……..

  6. chris

    interesting bit.......

    Register you never cease to amaze me with your random stories!!! I find it amazing that a "rubber ducky" would sell for $1000 dollars. Only you would find that story and expose the potential for money hungry riots on the beaches. Thank you for your diligence in reporting news worthy of a Sesame Street news cast.

  7. andy gibson


    on padding out a 20 word article with as many metaphors as you could muster.

  8. Lee Staniforth

    80s Band Name

    ... rather like "Tonto's Expanding Headband"?

  9. Torben Mogensen

    What exactly ...

    ... is the purpose of a rubber duck?

    Arthur Weasley and I would like to know.

  10. James Pickett

    Arresting headline dept.

    "Greed-crazed salvage junk bonanza mob frenzy brewing"

    Mr Page seems to be making a bid for the conveted Vulture Central award for the most improbable/arresting headline. I await his fellow hacks' retaliatory efforts with bated breath!

  11. Ian

    Enola Gay

    oh come on O.M.D were not that bad? hehe

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Their story was immortalised...


    I bought a copy. The book even quacks.

  13. Mark


    Perhaps this will be Gordon Brown's first big immigration scandal. At least they'll know where to repatriate them to.

  14. Laurie

    Re Enola Gay

    > Imagine it is 1982 and you are in a band, a synthesiser pop band...

    "A Flotilla of Ghostly Plastic Bathtoys" would have been a much better name that the original one that the authors of "Enola Gay" came up with. They were first known, I believe, as "Hitlerz Underpants"

    Mind you, a flotilla of Ghostly Hitlerz underpants? now that would be a sight to see!

  15. lansalot

    Cornwall ? Noooo...

    I'm sure this invasion is something those Cornish "freedom fighters" the CNLA (aka, the "Oooh-Arr-Aaay") will not put up with. It doesn't look good, does it, if they allow all these incomers to simply wash up on their beaches, un-challenged ? Next thing you know, they'll be drinking their cider, riding their tractors and romancing their women. And we all know where that type of activity will end...

    I advise the CNLA to appropriate a job lot of canes with little hooks on (possibly from a travelling circus, just before they set fire to it for "coming roun' 'ere, entertaining our children" etc) and wade out to take the invasion head-on !

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I wants one!

    I'll put it on my mantlepiece, or on a shelf in the bathroom.

    do we know when we should start combing the beaches for these gods of rubber duckies

  17. Gordon Matson


    Glad to see that thesaurus your nan got you for christmas is coming in handy!

  18. James McGregor


    What a great story, beautifully told but no doubt told with a thesaurus close at hand. I wonder what significance it might bear in the world of IT? Still, it is positively engaging to hear of these plastic heroes voyaging their way around the world's oceans. I wonder if any have turned up in shark's stomachs.

  19. The Mighty Spang

    Radio 4 covered this

    almost a year ago

  20. Eric Werme

    Oceanographers realy appreciate those ducks, shoes, etc.

    They've provided some welcome and important data about ocean currents, with implication for both pollution (and nutrient) transport and even global warming. (Of course, anything gets a link to that these days!) is an old article (1994), there must be newer ones around.

  21. Colin Sharples

    Anatidaen is not a word

    Family names end in -idae. To refer to a species as a member of a family, you drop the -ae, for example humans belong to the family Hominidae, and so are referred to as hominids. You should have said "plastic anatids", not "plastic anatidaens".

    I'll get me coat...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I loved this story!

    I don't know why, and I am not being sarcastic. It's got nothing to do with IT ( GPS Duck Tracking?), as far as I can see, but it's just so beautiful to think of little yellow/white duckies going around the world's oceans, bobbing from coast to coast..

    Somehow, it reminds me of that movie, Fly Away Home; the one about the geese. Yes, I know these ducks aren't alive, but still.

    And just to add the kicker, all those chaps who sneer at Chinese manufacturing, here's the single largest rebuttal to your sneers..A loud QUACK!! Multiplied by 10,000.. And I am not Chinese!

    Thanks for a story that was totally over the top, Lewis. It makes me want to work for El Reg.

  23. Greg Nelson

    Shoe Tree Vancouver Island B.C.

    About the same time as the duck episode a container of nike running shoes washed into the Pacific off the coast of Vancouver Island. Islanders being the frugal folk they are began to collect the sneakers as they washed ashore. Initially trades were made ad hoc to match up shoe sizes but the process was awkward. Off to the side of a dirt road on the way to isolated logging and fishing villages near to where the most part of the lost shipment washed up a few islanders began to leave odd shoes at the base of an ancient cedar tree. The idea caught on and the tree became a repository for the sneakers. After all possible matchings had taken place the left over shoes were nailed to the tree trunk. The sneakers cover the tree trunk the full circumference to the tree to a height of about 10 feet. It's the Shoe Tree to natives. To uninformed tourists it's an enigma wrapped in a mystery.

  24. Jon Edney

    What the duck!

    "We're getting reports of ducks being washed up on America's eastern seaboard” – Who reports this sort of thing! And where do you get the number!? I’m guessing it’s not in the Yellow Pages under “Washed-up Plastic Ducks”!

  25. Peter Chance

    Please explain...

    "many of them reportedly finishing up in Australia, where they were doubtless accorded the traditional hostile reception."

  26. John


    ...has anyone told Ernie?

  27. Dougal


    "many of them reportedly finishing up in Australia, where they were doubtless accorded the traditional hostile reception."

    Is no doubt in reference to trying to get into australia as an immigrant - remember that story a few years back when a boat load of them turned up?

    "Can we come in?"


    "We'll drown ourselves if you don't let us in!!"

    "Go on then."


    In the end I think newzealand had them...

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Washed up plastic ducks

    Thank you. I'm now desperately trying to rid myself of the mental image of a group of plastic ducks living in a cardboard box under the railway arches, swigging meths out of a bottle in a crumpled brown paper bag.


  29. Phil

    The IT angle

    The IT angle is of course than the more enterprising of these ducks have already found their way onto the motivational-pep-talks-for-computer-salesmen circuit, and are charging $5000 for a 30 minute talk with slides.

  30. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Right then

    To monitor world currents we obviously need a regular dumping of Rubber Duckies around the North Pole.

    Perhaps, for the sake of scientific clarity, said duckies could be color-coded ? Like yellow for 2007, blue for 2008, green for 2009 and so on. A bar code number would obviously be required as well.

    Finally, a web site would have to be set up to allow people to report sightings, be it on the sea or on shore. GPS coordinates, time and date, and maybe an attached pic would do nicely. If possible, a pic of the barcode would be lovely.

    So, which environmentally-friendly toy company is willing to do this important thing for science ?


  31. Chris Emmett

    Via Arctic?

    How did the ducks get from the Pacific to the Atlantic via the Arctic? Many expeditionaries died trying to find a North West passage (cf Barrows Boys). Were they just going the wrong way?

  32. Keith Mottram

    Aussie Immigrant Ducks

    These ducks were probably for a charity drive we used to have here in Oz. The ducks were let float down a river with the winner receiving a prize. They were LEGAL IMMIGRANTS in their natural environment of pure clean Aussie water.

    If these wandering ducks with no country status do start landing in Oz again, I'm sure the RAN will put a few shots across their bills. Either that or we will send them to Nauru, not New Zealand, Dougal.

  33. Michael Corkery


    "many of them reportedly finishing up in Australia, where they were doubtless accorded the traditional hostile reception."

    A few years back a ship full of would-be-immigrants from Asia arrived in Australia, many of them sick and starving. Australian PM John Howard was seeking re-election at the time, so played the ultra-conservative card, and decided it would be just fine if they weren't allowed in for help, since they were only foreigners. Evidently disregarding human rights is popular in Australia, as he was then re-elected by a worryingly healthy majority. Meanwhile New Zealand opted to help instead.

    It's sick, jingoistic electioneering that works. Akin to Maggie Thatcher letting almost a thousand young men die fighting a pointless war over the Falklands - people died, but hey, she got re-elected

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What use is a rubber duck?

    See Blazing Saddles: Hedley Lamarr in his hip bath!

  35. Ben Crow

    Technological possibilty

    Perhaps if the Titanic had been built using this duck based technology i wouldn't have lost two hours of my life to Celine Dion a few years ago.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    North West passage

    Thanks to global warming, the path is now open, at least for some limited time every year. With the prospect that Earth's ice caps will be gone, many companies already planning shipping routes across the north pole. A modified cargo ship already made it through a few years ago.

  37. Will


    Who cares about the IT angle? I bet most of us come here not just for the tech & IT news but for the quirky 'bootnotes' and excellent writing style. Another nomination for best subtitle from me. :)

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Newer article on ducky phenom

    There is a newer article which talks about the ducks, plastic beavers, and the Nike shoes being used to track ocean currents in the Feb. 4, 2006 edition of Science News. The flotsam is not the focus of the article, but it does talk about the significance of the inadvertant floating plastic research tools at some length.

  39. John Dougald McCallum

    North West Passage

    Probibly!There has afterall been one trans arctic sailing through the "north west passage" took IIRC most of the duration of the Second World War so it can be done,if with some difficulty.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Washed overboard

    Those curious about things washing overboard, this link has a picture of the APL China after it limped into port following a massive storm. Those boxes are supposed to be stacked upright. This one was from 1998, so no plastic ducks were harmed during the shooting of THIS photo.

  41. John Angelico

    With cat-like tread...

    Upon our prey we steal

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