A man, a plan, a canal, Panama. Cargo ships travel through locks in the Panama Canal. Image ©2016 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-sa 4.0.

From the Firehose: Boatspotting

Every day, we get thousands of images down from space. They appear in a browser we call the Firehose, a continuous stream of gorgeous new images. In a giant stream of reds, yellows, browns, tans of deserts and rock broken up intermittently by lush green forests, the vibrant, jewel-toned blues of our oceans and lakes pop out from the rest and are some of my favorite scenes. And of course, in water, we can see boats. We here at Planet call it “Boatspotting.” So as promised, here is the follow-up to my #planespotting post! I even have a nice transition to ease you in. Boats and planes!

Naval Station Norfolk, in Norfolk, Virgina with its airstrip, aircraft carriers, and a number of Navy vessels. Image ©2016 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-sa 4.0.

In our imagery, we see boats serving many functions like these dredging boats below:

Dredging boats work to carve out King Abdullah Port in Saudi Arabia. Image ©2016 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-sa 4.0.

We see shrimp boats trawling mud and sand off the coasts of New Orleans and Saudia Arabia:

Shrimp boats, not to be confused with an airshow like we first thought near New Orleans (left) and Saudia Arabia (right). Images ©2016 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-sa 4.0.

And container ships coming and going in the port city of Cape Town, South Africa:

Watch the containers as they get loaded onto the boat and the dry dock with its changing water levels. Image ©2016 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-sa 4.0.

We love to highlight port cities in our gallery. Here are a few images color corrected by the very talented, Robert Simmon.

Hundreds of ships in Hong Kong. Image ©2016 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-sa 4.0.
Personal watercraft glimmer in the many coves of Sydney Harbor (left). Container ships in the port of Vladivostok (right). Images ©2016 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-sa 4.0.

Boats can be readily found along the world’s major shipping routes. Seen here is the bustling port of Singapore:

Singapore is a prominent stop in many of today’s shipping routes. Image ©2016 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-sa 4.0.

It’s more difficult for Team Planet to track boats than planes, so we can’t always tell what they are or where they are going, but here are a few of the most interesting boats we’ve seen in our data.

Check out the individual containers! Images ©2016 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-sa 4.0.

We here at Planet are armchair boatspotters, for a more advanced lesson in boatspotting, check out the work done by our friends at Timbr.io on automatic boat detection in our dataset!

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