Friday, February 10, 2023

24 Hours of Ship Traffic in the Bay

Every day hundreds of container ships, high speed ferries, and pleasure boats navigate the San Francisco Bay. The job of orchestrating much of this marine traffic falls to the Coast Guard’s vessel traffic service, based on Yerba Buena Island. You can get a great idea of what this job entails on Mapbox's interactive map Ships in the San Francisco Bay.

Ships in the San Francisco Bay animates 24 hours of marine traffic in the Bay, as recorded by the Coast Guard on September 1st, 2014. On this map you can watch as container ships and other large vessels actually navigate in and out of the Bay and its various shipping ports. The map also includes a guided tour which explains some of the nuances of ship navigation and traffic in the Bay. This tour explains the role of harbor pilots, anchorages for explosives (designated anchorages for oil & gas tankers waiting to unload), and the use of turning basins in the Oakland estuary.

Like San Francisco Bay the North Sea also sees enormous amounts of shipping traffic. Delft University of Technology has mapped the section of North Sea marine traffic which travels past the Netherlands. 

As you scroll through Crowds on the North Sea the map zooms and pans to highlight and explore the different types of shipping traffic active off the coast of the Netherlands. This includes large ferries (used for shipping passengers to and from the Netherlands) and the container ships constantly (sailing in and out of the huge Dutch commercial ports). The AIS tracks of dredging ships can also be seen as they work to keep the main shipping routes open for all other shipping traffic.

The area of the North Sea off the Belgium coast is also one of the busiest seas in the world. In fact Belgian territorial waters are so busy that the North Sea off the Belgian coast sees more marine traffic than both the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal.

To help illustrate the huge amount of marine activity which takes place off the coast of Belgium the financial newspaper De Tijd created an animated map which visualizes 24 hours of marine traffic, using data from marinetraffic. On this animated map different colors are used to show four distinct types of marine vessel. In the story The North Sea is Teeming container ships are shown in yellow, the blue vessels are fishing boats, dredgers are shown in red and other types of ship are shown in gray.

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