Hundreds of Yeti coolers have been washing up on the coast of Alaska and elsewhere a year after they spilled from the cargo ship transporting them.
The cargo ship, Zim Kingston, was traveling from South Korea to Vancouver when it got caught in a storm. 109 shipping containers fell off the ship filled with urinal mats, refrigerators, toys, and 1,600 Yeti coolers. Lucky bystanders and people hunting for the coolers have been finding them since late last year.
“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.”
In October 2021, the Zim Kingston was near the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which is between Washington state and Vancouver Island, when it encountered waves of 20 feet and wind speeds up to 40 knots, according to The Maritime Executive. Shortly after the rough seas threw containers overboard, the ship caught fire, causing it to lose two more.
“The ship rolled 35 degrees and, with the height that those containers are on a container ship, it puts a lot of stress on the tie-downs,” Laird Hall of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Puget Sound vessel traffic service said at the time.
The fire onboard took a week to put out, according to The Globe And Mail. This was partly due to the hazardous materials that were in some of the shipping containers. Despite this, the ship was able to be saved along with most of the cargo.
The coolers appear to be the most treasured find from the ship, ranging in price from $250 to $750. Many of them are in near-mint condition, according to the Wall Street Journal. Most of the coolers have ended up in Alaska, where some residents now search for them as a hobby. One man told the outlet he discovered 19 that had washed up while searching in his plane. Another couple that found one said the exterior was “lightly abused, but the inside was in mint condition.”
These @YETICoolers were all found on beaches near Seward, Alaska: ~1,000 miles from where the #ZimKingston spilled containers off WA’s Olympic Peninsula. Pics courtesy Duke Marolf. 4/n pic.twitter.com/Z9oLhpDezy
— KUOW Public Radio (@KUOW) September 7, 2022
Along with coolers washing up in Seattle, two were reportedly found In Hawaii, roughly 2,500 miles away from where they went overboard. Ebbesmeyer, who is an expert in the study of how ocean debris travels on currents, says, “The coolers are being found exactly where they should be.” He estimates that since the goods were tossed from the ship, they have traveled 7 miles a day. Four shipping containers washed up 200 miles north of the spillage site just five days after the event, according to KUOW.
Yeti President and CEO Matt Reintjes said that the company lost 1,600 coolers in the incident, but he hopes the “near-new” coolers are put to “good use.”