LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Donovan Hohn has a very unusual tale to tell.
Hohn, a freelance writer for GQ Magazine, ditched his job as a high school English teacher in Manhattan to go hunting for tens of thousands of bath toys lost at sea.
“Perhaps the craziest thing I did — forget the seafaring and walking around in the habitat of polar bears — was quit my job and give up employer subsidized health benefits,” Hohn said.
His adventure has been recounted in his new book, “Moby Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them”.
Hohn tells KFWB 980’s Michael Shappee the odyssey all started when he stumbled upon a student’s essay about a number of plastic toys washing off the deck of a cargo ship off the East Coast.
The book ultimately emerged only after five years of journeying across oceans in search of a toy spill that at its core serves as a commentary on the ecological crisis continuing to wash up on our nation’s coastlines.
Hohn began his story at the location of the January 1992 toy spill, which was actually comprised of 7,200 red beavers, 7,200 green frogs, 7,200 blue turtles and 7,200 yellow ducks.
From there, he examined those places where the toys were found, the locations that they should have ended up, and their origin: a factory in China.
Yet while the book wasn’t originally intended as an environmental tale, Hohn says he had no choice but to document what he found on the open seas.
“We have changed the ocean, its chemistry and ecology,” Hohn said. “Oceans used to seem divine, a vision of the eternal. Not now.”
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