TCS: 80,000 Running Shoes and the Beached Bananas Bonanza

Good Morning!


Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers
on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum,
so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in
your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.


On such a full sea are we now afloat.
And we must take the current when
it serves, or lose our ventures.

– William Shakespeare,
Brutus in Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3


“As you be muche the worse, and I cast awaie.
An yll wynde, that blowth no man to good, men saie.”

– from A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all
the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, by  John Heywood (1546)


Beginning in 2011, the World Shipping Council, a trade group whose members handle about 80 percent of global ocean-carrier capacity, asked members to report the number of shipping containers lost overboard in the previous three years. Then they expanded the survey to account for the losses from 2008 through 2016, and came up with an average of only 568 containers per year. However, that figure was just for small losses, not catastrophic events, such as the loss of a vessel and all its cargo during a storm. Adding in catastrophes, the average increased to 1,582 containers lost annually. The council had to estimate what the losses were from the 20% of shipping not handled by their members.

Between 1980 and 2016, the deadweight tonnage of container ships grew from about 11 million metric tons to an estimated 244 million metric tons. In 2016, ocean carriers moved an estimated 130 million containers, holding cargo worth at least $4 trillion USD.



In late February 2004, the Med Taipei, en route to the Port of Los Angeles, lost 24 containers – 15 of them in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary south of San Francisco. Four months later, scientists with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute found one of them – holding 1,159 steel-belted car tires – resting upside down on the seafloor, at a depth of about 4,200 feet.

The marine sanctuary used the money from the ensuing legal settlement to turn the container into a kind of science experiment, monitoring the impact site to track decomposition rates along with “potential impacts over time of steel containers and contents, as well as the recovery rates of natural habitats in the deep seafloor,” according to the sanctuary’s website.

“Our lost container is really the only shipping container in the world that’s being studied in the deep over time,” said Andrew DeVogelaere, research director for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

— snip —

(referring to estimates of how many containers are lost)

“I don’t know that anybody knows what the true number is . . . When they are lost, they’ll sit on the sea floor for hundreds of years. It’s a big deal,” DeVogelaere said.

— snip —

Curtis Ebbesmeyer, a Seattle-based oceanographer with 50 years of experience, remembers when thousands of Nike athletic shoes began to wash up on Pacific Northwest beaches about 25 years ago.

“Each Nike shoe has a serial number, and Nike actually cooperated with me, through their marine department, to figure out what ship it came from,” Ebbesmeyer said. “That’s a very unusual thing.”

– reported by Robert McCabe, in The Virginian-Pilot
August 19, 2017 —…


The first story on this video is about how scientists were able to use the Nike shoe disaster to discover more about ocean currents. It’s followed by other weird things, including thousands of green bananas, which have either washed ashore or been found in the ocean.

The container ships humans are sending out on the ocean are too big, and keep getting bigger. They could be made safer if they were double-walled, but most of them aren’t. These ships may require as much as 5 miles to stop (with gears in full reverse.) The containers that are lost every year are far from the only things polluting Earth’s oceans, and probably aren’t the worst things. Sometimes what falls into the sea even becomes useful, like the Nikes, or the tire container near Monterey Bay, or some of those green bananas, but most of what goes in the drink is not. They are just one of a thousand things we could and should be doing better, and a lot more carefully, than we are. Only one of the many reasons we need a tsunami-sized 2018 Blue Wave to sweep out the climate change-deniers.



This blog was inspired by World Oceans Day, which is this coming Friday, June 8

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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