Of plastic ducks and dead whales


As news comes through that thousands of plastic ducks are floating towards the UK: the flotsam of containers lost in the Pacific 15 years ago, I am reminded of a story told me by a security guard for a major shipping company. I had gone along to talk about the problem of containers washed from the decks of ships.

Before the interview the source told me that, on one occasion, a container ship had motored half way around the world with a dead sperm whale hooked up over its bulbous bow.

‘The captain had noticed she had a tendency to pull a quarter of a degree to one side, but dismissed it as poor ballast trim. The whale wasn’t found until the ship docked,’ he told me.

‘Do they know what killed it?,’ I asked.

‘Probably a falling container,’ came the cynical reply.