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See How Busy Puget Sound Shipping Lanes Really Are

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With the right property you'll get to see that Seattle has ships, lots of them. Here are some maps that show you just busy the waters are. There's even a highway out there.

With the right property you'll get to see that Seattle has ships, lots of them. Here are some maps that show you just busy the waters are. There's even a highway out there.

Vox created an interactive map of the world's shipping traffic. Zoom in on any port you want, or check out choke points like the Strait of Malacca, the Panama Canal, and the English Channel. We, of course, checked out Seattle. Sometimes the Sound looks empty; but Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Bellingham, and Port Angeles combine to create one of the world's major commercial shipping ports.

So many ships travel the Sound that there are traffic lanes. They're just like highways with lane markers (buoys), traffic cops (the US Coast Guard), and rules for when, where, and how to pass. A kayaker trying to cross the lane is like a person trying to cross a busy street. The traffic is probably moving ten times faster. With the big ships, that may only be twenty knots, but few if any folks can paddle that fast. Look both ways.

If you want more detail, there's plenty to find. The US Navy, containers, bulk carriers, cruise ships, ferries, commercial fishing boats, tugs, and lots of yachts. MarineTraffic.com provides live, interactive maps that let you find the name, speed, and size of the vessel; which is particularly helpful when you find something you've never seen before, or are impressed with how fast something is zipping by.

Look a bit at the maps and you can see that, if you want to watch the traffic, the western mainland of King County, the west side of Whidbey Island, the east side of Kitsap, Jefferson, and Clallam counties provide great views. San Juan County gets the bonus of watching British Columbia's traffic. If, however, you don't want to watch a parade of diesels and nukes but still want a salt water view, try the west side of Snohomish County, the east side of Whidbey Island, most of Hood Canal, the west sides of Bainbridge and Vashon Islands, and the south part of the South Sound. There, you'll see more wildlife than metal, which you just might prefer.
· This is an incredible visualization of the world's shipping routes [Vox Media]
· MarineTraffic.com [MT]