Sunday, November 25, 2012

Rubber Ducky, You're The One...

Above: This rubber ducky, trapped behind the fence at Capitol Lake, sports an unlucky number, identifying it as a participant in the popular, annual Duck Dash charity event sponsored by the Rotary Club of Lacey.

Rubber Ducky, You're The One...

by Janine Unsoeld

Well, one of twelve thousand....

An unusual species has been documented at Capitol Lake. On a walk around the lake this past week, at least 20 rubber ducks were identified as bobbing on the surface of the lake or trapped in storm debris that also included flipflops, a soccer ball, soda and beer cans, plastic water bottles, and more.

While the rubber ducks are certainly not the only litter in Capitol Lake, they are, arguably, the cutest. Unfortunately, they can also be traced to one single event: the popular, annual Duck Dash sponsored by the Rotary of Club of Lacey. Held in June at Tumwater Falls Park, it's a spectacular event that raises thousands of dollars by local individuals, businesses and organizations for needy local charities.

Losing about 20 renegades out of a possible 12,000 rubber ducks thrown over the Tumwater Falls bridge into the Deschutes River for such a worthy cause isn't that bad perhaps, but still, one has to wonder, is there an alternative?

Contacted this week by Little Hollywood about the multiple, confirmed sightings of this invasive species in Capitol Lake, Lacey Rotary Club president Mary Segawa explained the work of the Rotary group and seemed to welcome input on alternatives to using the rubber ducks.

"Thank you for contacting me about the ducks. We try very hard to get them all the day of the race, but some of them hide out pretty well in nooks and crannies. When we are made aware, we do our best to get them....we will work on getting them picked up. I really appreciate your letting us know about this. We are now getting our committee established for the 2013 fundraiser, and I will share your email with them," Segawa said in an email received today.

The 2013 Duck Dash will be the Rotary's 24th year of conducting the event.
Asked if there could be alternatives to using the rubber ducks, Segawa said, "At this time I personally have no ideas on what would work in place of the rubber ducks, but I will take it to the committee. The quantity will be one of the main issues since we number and use 12,000 ducks. The ducks are shared by a number of Rotary groups in Washington so that we can all keep our costs manageable and use the maximum amount of the proceeds for community and international projects. The ducks are washed after being used so we do not carry any unwanted creatures (such as the snails in Capitol Lake) to other bodies of water, we have boats and people at the end of the race to catch the ducks, and we also send members all along the river with nets and bags right after the race ends to bring in the stray ducks. Unfortunately, some still get through," she said.

Segawa also said that the Duck Dash is the only big fundraiser for Lacey Rotary and has been netting $40,000 - $54,000 for the past few years.
Editor's Note on Common Sense: While it would appear some rubber ducks were already plucked from the water when there was a high water level in Capitol Lake last week, it would be very unsafe and not recommended for anyone to try and reach over the edge of the low concrete wall to retrieve loose rubber ducks. In her email, Segawa also asked where the ducks were last seen, and the Rotary group will attempt to gather them.
For more information about the Duck Dash, including a full list of the organizations that benefit from the success of the Rotary's fundraiser, go to:
Above: A rubber duck, a soccer ball, and a bottle are just some of the trash evident in Capitol Lake this past week.
Above: Nearing the end of her walk around Capitol Lake, this photographer happened upon ducks that had already been rescued. Looking over the edge, there were several more in the debris that could not be reached.


  1. Janine,

    I've enjoyed reading all your latest blog postings. The latest one about rubber duckies was interesting - I got tickled at that last photo of the rubber ducks all lined up along the cement - like little sentinels guarding the real ducks on the water.

    I'm attaching a photo I took in September. It was taken down next to the lower falls at Tumwater Fall Park - one of those "nooks" that the rubber duckies get hung up in. I bet if I went back there today, all those duckies would have been dislodged. Shows the power of the high water.


    Janine's note: the picture didn't come through in the comment section, but it shows four rubber ducks!

  2. Janine, I wish people would not litter. Look at this, and right on the state capitol campus... what does it mean?!

  3. Your post reminds me of this story Eric Carle has a cute book called "10 Little Rubber Ducks" based on it.
    Dr. Ebbsmeyer, a local expert, also has an interesting site which helps him solicit help from the public to track found beach items to track ocean currents.