Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Scientists have discovered a vast reef of floating condoms in the Pacific Ocean.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1996]
Origins: We don't know where this story originated other than that, like the putative "condom reef" it describes, it's been floating around the currents (of the Internet) since 1996. It's clearly something that originated as a joke, a spoof, or perhaps a Weekly World News-like tabloid article. (For the record, no articles about floating "reefs" of condoms show up in news databases from 1996 or later, nor any mention of an Australian marine biologist named "Mason Froule" or an "Oceanographic Laboratory Outpost" on Macquarie Island.)
Given the figures quoted in the article above, several decades' worth of condoms would all have had to aggregate in the same spot in the Pacific Ocean to create the "vast, floating reef" it describes, although the geographic coordinates it provides for the purported mass are at least plausible:
(The web-based publication Pravda RU [which has little in common with the former Soviet state-owned newspaper of similar name] also ran an article in
Although there may not be a two-mile-long reef of aggregated condoms in the Pacific Ocean, keeping spent condoms from making their way through waste disposal systems and into bodies of water is an issue that comes up from time to time. In 2003, for example, the Associated Press reported on efforts by the city of Milwaukee to prevent used condoms from floating into Lake Michigan:
Milwaukee will spend $2 million on a filtering system at a wastewater treatment plant in an effort to stop condoms from floating into Lake Michigan.Last updated: 1 June 2005
The issue drew attention in June when a fisherman said he saw hundreds of spent condoms in the Milwaukee harbor, prompting the state attorney general to threaten to prosecute the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Commission over the problem.
Workers for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Commission said they found only 50 or
Crews also scoop any prophylactics from the lake.
On Monday, the commission agreed to spend $2 million for a short-term solution to the condom problem. Then in 2005, the city will spend
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