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 by Donovan Hohn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I was sorely disappointed in this meandering book. I almost had to add it to my "Didn't Finish Reading" shelf, but every so often my interest was well-captured. The premise is great: Donovan Hohn heard about the container ship that spilled its contents, included 28,800 bath toys that started to wash up on shores in Alaska, and perhaps in Maine. He sets out to investigate and winds up on a journey of several years. He travels to Alaska, and joins in major beach cleanup projects, finding one of the legendary bath toys. Trying to trace the path of the toys, he goes to China to visit the toy factory from whence the toys came, and he travels on a container ship along the path of the ill-fated ship. But his quest doesn't stop there. He continues his quest on several scientific research vessels in the Atlantic, and ends his journey by traveling through the Northwest Passage on a Canadian icebreaker. He is never able to prove the legend of the "rubber ducks" (actually plastic), but along the way he shares a wealth of scientific research. He covers ocean currents, ocean pollution, the chemistry of plastic, meteorology, and the formation of Arctic ice. I got bored in many places in the book, having to go back to re-read or skimming over dense scientific explanation. It would have been very helpful to include some visual references - maps of the Alaska coastline for example, and a map of the Pacific Gyres. (I pulled out a science book from school for that). I think the book would have benefitted from some serious rewriting. I found the book most interesting during his description of his beachcombing days in Alaska and his trip on the container ship. I also enjoyed reading about some of the researchers he met, especially Amy Bower, the blind oceanographer.
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