Thursday, February 21, 2019

The World Map of Shipping Traffic


This map of global shipping density reveals the world's major shipping lanes and also the areas of the world that the major shipping companies avoid. The reasons why some areas of the world's seas and oceans don't see as much traffic as others can vary from geo-political reasons to the dangers of piracy and local sailing conditions.

The live ship tracking map MarineTraffic includes an option to view a density map of the world's shipping traffic. If you select the 'Density Maps' overlay on MarineTraffic you can view an overlay which shows the accumulated recorded data of all vessels on MarineTraffic over recent years.

If you zoom in on the coastline of North Korea on MarineTraffic you can see that there don't seem to be many ships breaking the international trading sanctions. The coastline of Somalia is another area which seems to have less dense marine traffic than other countries' coastlines. The reason that ships avoid Somalia however is presumably more to do with the dangers of piracy.

The Gulf of Sirte off the coast of Libya is another area with a low density of ship traffic. According to Wikipedia the dangers to boats in the gulf have been known for centuries, "Ancient writers frequently mention the sandbanks (in the gulf) and their vicinity as dangerous for shipping".  Elsewhere marine traffic might avoid coastlines because of Emission Control Areas. The EU, the US and Canada all have controls which force ships to use cleaner and more expensive fuel near coastlines.


The different types of routes and journeys taken by different types of marine vessel around the UK can be seen in a series of maps by Alasdair Rae. In Watching the Ships Go By Alasdair has created a number of static maps showing the vessel tracks of different types of vessel in the coastal waters around the UK. These include maps showing the different routes taken by cargo ships, passenger ships, fishing boats, high speed craft, military vessels, tankers and recreational craft.


You can also explore the different shipping routes of different types of vessel using Shipmap.org. Shipmap.org is an outstanding animated interactive map visualizing the movements of the global merchant shipping fleet over the course of one year. The map uses AIS shipping data from exactEarth to visualize the movements of different types of cargo ships over the course of 2012.

Shipmap.org allows you to filter the ships shown on the map by type of cargo vessel. The narrated tour provided with this map also explains some of the interesting patterns that emerge from mapping the worldwide merchant shipping trade.

2 comments:

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