St. Petersburg Times Online: World&Nation
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version

Need a pair of sneakers? Try fishing the Pacific

©Associated Press
March 2, 2003

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Enough soggy Nike basketball shoes to outfit every high school team in Alaska are drifting through the Pacific Ocean toward the state after spilling from a container ship off Northern California.

There's just one hitch.

"Nike forgot to tie the laces, so you have to find mates," said Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer in Washington state who tracks flotsam. "The effort's worth it because these Nikes have only been adrift a few months. All 33,000 are wearable."

A beachcomber told Ebbesmeyer about the shoe spill after finding two new Nikes washed up on Washington's Olympic Peninsula on Jan. 9 and 16. Unfortunately, they were sizes 101/2 and 81/2. Both were lefts.

A little research by Ebbesmeyer confirmed that a ship lost cargo Dec. 15 during a storm, including three 40-foot containers carrying an estimated 5,500 pairs of shoes each.

"Nikes will be soon in your neck of the sea," Ebbesmeyer said in an e-mail to the Anchorage Daily News recently.

Over the past decade, Ebbesmeyer has tracked 29,000 duckies, turtles and other bathtub toys; 3-million tiny Legos; 34,000 hockey gloves; and 50,000 Nike crosstrainers that went overboard in the Pacific in 1999.

He and government oceanographer Jim Ingraham have published their results in academic journals as well as Ebbesmeyer's newsletter Beachcombers' Alert.

This time, Ebbesmeyer took the serial numbers off the shoes to trace the shipment. Nike told him the shoes were being shipped from Los Angeles to Tacoma, Wash.

After the two shoes washed ashore on the Olympic Peninsula in January, Ebbesmeyer calculated that they had moved more than 450 miles in a month -- up to 18 miles a day. At that pace, he calculated the Nikes could bob an additional 1,600 miles by the time the current eases in mid April, sprinkling basketball shoes along the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian coasts.

Lee Weinstein, a spokesman for Nike in Beaverton, Ore., said beachcombers who find soggy shoes can mail them to Nike for recycling.

Nike has used recycled rubber sneakers to repave basketball courts and playgrounds, he said.

Back to World & National news
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Special Links
Susan Taylor Martin

From the Times wire desk
  • Raid snares key 9/11 suspect
  • S. Korean leader warns of a nuclear 'calamity'
  • NASA chief says to board request
  • Peers honor Cmdr. McCool's legacy
  • In crushing blow, Turkey says no to U.S.
  • Arabs bristle at suggestion that Hussein resign
  • Fort Florida: Across the state: inflated statistics, exaggerated needs
  • Police find body with organs cut out
  • Nation in brief: Nursing home fire death toll up to 11
  • Need a pair of sneakers? Try fishing the Pacific
  • Bill Clinton, on a jury? Not likely
  • Air marshals arrest loud man
  • World in brief: Palestinian leaders to vote on adding prime minister
  • Enter country, get radiation test
  • Afghan president finds he's lost cachet
  • Canada report: Tobacco company accused of selling to smugglers
  • Susan Taylor Martin: Business of war rolls on in Turkey, opposition or no
  • Mary Jacoby: Suspected terrorist, White House guest?

  • From the AP
    national wire
    From the AP
    world desk