Maine’s Famous Giant, Icy, Spinning “Duck Carousel” Is Back

Ducks flocking to the Presumpscot River in Westbrook today will be greeted by Maine’s gigantic spinning ice disk, which has returned. The rare but natural phenomena known as the “duck carousel” is caused by cold air colliding with small whirlpools, resulting in a large, rotating, frozen circle that arises occasionally throughout the winter months. It first appeared in Maine in 2019, reappeared briefly in 2020, and is now backing to an unusual extent.

Icy Lazy Susans have reported in rivers all over the world, with one of the first sightings dating back to 1895, when a reader wrote to Scientific American to describe seeing a “revolving ice cake” in the Mianus River in New York. When eddies — pockets of water travelling in a circular direction – in a river freeze and begin to spin, a strange shape emerges. 

The water in the middle of the eddy is the most likely to freeze since it moves the slowest. As the current continues to spin and the ice’s edges scrape against rocks and ice, the forming lump of ice gradually becomes shaped into a near-perfect round. However, conspiracy theorists are attracted to nothing in science, and some have proposed their own hypotheses as to why the Duck Carousel has resurfaced. 

“I’m not accusing you guys of constructing this,” said Meteorologist Keith Carson of WCSH/WLBZ in response to a City of Westbrook Facebook post, “but I did witness Patrick Dempsey in a wetsuit swimming around there in enormous circles just a few days ago.”

According to Discover Magazine, this year’s Presumpscot river offering is similar in size to prior years but a touch thinner. It appeared unexpectedly during a cold spell overnight and spent a day living up to its Duck Carousel moniker before grinding to a standstill, but the enormous circle can still see. It is unclear whether Maine’s massive ice disk will start spinning again, so if you are a duck, we recommend getting down there as soon as possible.

When the temperature drops along the Presumpscot River in Westbrook, Maine, the conditions are ideal for a spectacular natural phenomenon: a giant disk of ice moving in slow circles on the river. Caran-Marie Michel, one of the first to see the ice disk when it arrived on January 11, said, “Apparently it simply developed yesterday in a cold snap.” “No one knows how long it’ll be here, so people are going to view it while it’s still here.” It’s similar to a festival.”