Flotsametrics and the Floating World: How a Man’s Obsession with Runaway Sneakers and Rubber Ducks Revolutionized Ocean Science

Curtis Ebbesmeyer, Author, Eric Scigliano, Author . Collins/Smithsonian $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-155841-2

Part oceanography lesson, part memoir, this cheerful book examines Ebbesmeyer’s life and work as a pioneering oceanographer (the first to work for Mobil/Standard Oil, in 1969) and connoisseur of beach-combed artifacts. His primary interest is ocean currents, especially gyres—great circular, interlocking currents that sweep the Earth’s waters with clockwork regularity—and the flotsam they carry around the planet. Everything from athletic shoes and bathtub toys to messages in bottles and corpses have provided data to help Ebbesmeyer trace currents. He recounts how flotsam guided colonization and exploration, from Norse explorers to Christopher Columbus (the first to master the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre). Today, Ebbesmeyer says, the human propensity for creating garbage has also made flotsam an environmental concern, with too many studies “neatly filed away and forgotten.” This account, made lively with the help of journalist Scigliano (Puget Sound ), might encourage many readers to dream of “roundi[ng] the gyres” like Ebbesmeyer, “searching out the world’s trashiest beaches.” Illus. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/16/2009
Release date: 03/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 304 pages - 978-0-06-178533-7
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