Thursday, January 21, 2021

Global Shipping Traffic

VesselFinder is an interactive map which shows in real-time the live position of over 100,000 vessels around the world. The map uses AIS and satellite data to track and map the locations of boats and ships on both inland rivers and on the world's oceans & seas. 

On the maps different colored markers are used to show different types of marine vessels. Yellow markers show the locations of cargo ships, orange markers indicate tankers and purple markers show yachts. If you click on individual markers on the map you can often view detailed information about the selected vessel (purple yachts tend not to have any background information).

Looking at the VesselFinder map today you can clearly see there are a large number of yachts taking advantage of the trade-winds to make easterly crossings of the Atlantic (the line of purple vessels on the map above).


MarineTraffic is another popular interactive map which allows you to view the live position of ships around the world. The MarineTraffic live ship tracking map 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. 

The density map (shown above) of global shipping 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.

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 often has less dense marine traffic than other coastlines. The reason that ships avoid Somalia is presumably to do with the dangers of piracy.

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