Large quantities of shells, crabs, jellyfish, but also objects such as fishing nets, cartons of milk, bottles (with or without mail) and shoes are washed on the beach. Some of these objects come from afar and float on the ocean surface for months or even years. These beach washes are great for the beachcombers among us, but they also keep oceanographers busy.

Where and when objects floating in the ocean reach land depend on a number of factors such as current, wind, and waves. Even with these factors in view, the ocean remains unpredictable, according to research by a group of Australian scientists. These scientists used special floating equipment, a kind of intelligent rubber duck, to study how wind, currents, and waves affect an object floating in the ocean.