Hundreds of Yeti coolers are finally washing up on shorelines from Hawaii to Alaska after a shipping container spilled them into the ocean over a year ago.
The container was thought to belong to the South Korea-bound Zim Kingston. While it was making its way through the Pacific Ocean on October 21, 2021, it hit a bomb cyclone. The resulting rough seas caused the ship to flip on its side.
Not only did it drop a massive container of luxury coolers, but it also dumped around 100 other containers that were carrying toys, urinal mats, refrigerators, and more. One of them also held combustible chemicals. It caught fire in the store and burned for a week.
As of writing, the other items are littering beaches in Canada and the northwest region of the United States.
The Beached Yeti Coolers Are Free For the Taking
The Yetis, however, are making headlines because they can cost as much as $750 in stores. And when they drift ashore, they’re simply up for grabs.
Scientists believe there are around 1,600 coolers floating at sea—and it may take decades before they all find land.
A marine welder and bush pilot living in Seward, Alaska, told The Wall Street Journal that he’s made it a habit to comb nearby beaches for Yeti coolers. He’s found 19 to date.
“The Yetis are still out there,” Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer said. “The coolers will keep circling the world. You’ll be getting reports of people finding Yetis for the next 30 years.”
The coolers are proving to be relatively harmless to the fragile ecosystem. Thanks to their design, they simply drift like a flotation device until they find a beach and get scooped up by a lucky treasure hunter. But the other spilled products are proving to be detrimental to wildlife.
Inflatable toys, baby oil containers, rubber boots, and more are also piling on beaches. A teacher in Port Hard, British Columbia, named Jerika McArte saw firsthand what the trash is causing when she took her class on a field trip last week to Vancouver Island.
“At first, we didn’t realize the extent, so it was kinda exciting,” she told KUOW. “But when we walked further down the beach there was a lot of shock, fear of what will happen with all this stuff, how many years it will take to clean this all up, sadness, anger.
“In the waves you could see more debris floating around, just really overwhelming all of it,” she continued.