Lots of shells, crabs, and jellyfish, but also things like fishing nets, milk cans, bottles (with or without mail), and shoes wash on the beach. Some of these objects come from afar and float to the surface of the ocean for months, sometimes years. These beach washes are interesting to the beach dwellers among us, but they also keep oceanologists busy.

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