World Wide Shipping | Live Mapping

The image below is centered on the New York harbor area. The small colored markers are ships. The image is a capture from a website which tracks the movements of over 50,000 vessels worldwide. I live in Iowa. We have barge traffic on the Mississippi River. But, it is seasonal and stops in the winter or dry weather.

If you live near a major world port, this web site will allow you to see hundreds of vessels. Click on the image to go to the site. Zoom in anywhere. Hover your mouse over a colored marker. Click on it to see more details and often a picture of the vessel. This is an excellent use of Google Maps and how it is linked to other databases such as the AIS system.

AIS is initially intended to help ships avoid collisions, as well as assisting port authorities to better control sea traffic. AIS transponders on board vessels include a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver, which collects position and movement details. It includes also a VHF transmitter, which transmits periodically this information on two VHF channels (…) and make this data available to the public domain.

Because I am a land-lubber, I can’t offer any expertise about ships, navigation, harbors, etc. The site was very interesting, though. It is a good diversion from the usual negative news of the day.

There is a good FAQ section explaining the site and the methods used to track ships.

There are links to VesselsPorts, and Gallery of ship photos at the top. Find and click and be taken to that location on the map.

Click on the map and full steam ahead.


13 thoughts on “World Wide Shipping | Live Mapping

    • The world of ships and ocean commerce is foreign to me. I grew up and live in the land ocean of the midwest farms. We have our own versions of ships in the trucks, trains, cars, buses, and such that haul grain and people and goods. I thought this map was quite cool.

  1. Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker: even if the map contained not a single word, I’d have recognized New York harbor immediately.

    The two towers of the Narrows Bridge (right where the shield with 278 on it appears) are tall enough and far part enough that the distance between them at their tops is an inch more than the distance between them at their bottoms because of the curvature of the earth’s surface.

    • That is a huge bridge. It surprises me a little that the tops are 1″ farther. But, I believe it. The city is a testament to the energy and resourcefulness of people.

      I’m glad you liked the view. I like studying places from the space perspective. The images are amazing.

  2. NYC harbor has got to be one busy place! … Meanwhile, I’m still trying to get caught up!

  3. I love this map, and use it a good bit. During the days of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent repair efforts, it was fascinating to track the various vessels. I watched it in conjunction with a forum on a site called Peak Oil, and it was often like watching detectives at work. The people on the site, just by watching which kind of rig or ship was showing up where, could make some educated guesses about what was going on.

    Other sites have sprung up for other purposes. There are some good ones that track cruising sailboats, or offshore races. When one of our local boats lost its keel during an offshore race, the first notice to us watching that something was wrong came from the tracking map – the boat simply stopped. It was terribly sad – one fellow died in that accident, but he saved his crew.

    I can be a touch grumpy about some i-gadgetry, but when I can find a use for something, I’m all in!

    • That would have been an excellent use of this. We do have a lot of extra and useless apps and gadgets. Things like this serve a good purpose.


      • It is dark outside at the moment and I can see all of the lights on the boats for quite some distance. During the day it is more difficult to see them off the coast. I’ve also spotted a couple of vessels that I traveled on in the summer. I’m feeling very geeky about this at the moment. Thank you 🙂

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