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rubbish floating on the ocean


flotsam = das Treibgut, das Strandgut --- GOOGLE INDEX flotsam: approximately 1,300,000 Google hits



FLOTSAM which has gathered in the bay surrounding an island church off the coast of Anglesey is being cleared up by volunteers on Saturday.

(BBC News)

The government's crusade against climate change could make the UK the biggest dump for environmental FLOTSAM in Europe.


Did you


- pieces of broken wood and other waste materials found on the beach or floating on the sea

- anything or anyone that is unwanted or worthless

(Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)


In maritime law, flotsam - from the word to float - applies to wreckage or cargo left floating on the sea after a shipwreck. The term is often used together with jetsam - from the word jettison, meaning to throw something overboard - which applies to cargo or equipment thrown overboard from a ship in distress and either sunk or washed ashore.

The phrase flotsam and jetsam, in addition to flotsam by itself, is used as a general term to describe objects found washed ashore as well as rubbish in general.

Flotsam is also colloquial for the underclass of society such as the homeless.

The word flotsam has led to a new term, "flotsametrics", which is the science of studying ocean debris. It may sound odd, but scientists can actually acquire valuable data about ocean currents by analysing the route flotsam takes.

Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an American oceanographer, first brought this science to the public's attention after a cargo ship lost five containers of athletic shoes in the Pacific in 1991. One year later, the shoes began washing up on the shores of the northwest United States, prompting Ebbesmeyer to track their progress up and down the coast and all the way to Hawaii. His research yielded a groundbreaking study of ocean currents, thus "enhancing" the English language with a new term.


"I must to get rid of all this flotsam on my desk and get organised."

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