Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Five Minutes on the Bosphorus

The Bosphorus, the narrow strait that connects the Black and Mediterranean Seas through the city of Istanbul, have been a critical shipping channel for millennia: a connection point between the historical empires of Europe and the Middle East, which in turn made Istanbul a capital of several of those empires.

Today, the strait is no longer the exclusive crossroads of global trade. But the Bosphorus is still busy, especially with container ships carrying goods to and from the busy ports of Odesa and Sevastapol in Ukraine, Novorossiysk in Russia, and Poti in Georgia. The chief exports of the latter two ports are petroleum products from the gas and oil fields of central Asia, bound for the West.

These Black Sea ports send huge tankers freighted with highly explosive compressed natural gas and oil to mingle with hundreds of fishing boats and passenger ferries carrying passengers between Istanbul's intercontinental neighborhoods. So far, somehow, there have been no major accidents.

Here's a five-minute time-lapse of the Bosphorus's shipping traffic from the middle of a weekday morning in October:

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