10 Best Great Lakes Ship Tracker Tools

The Great Lakes is an interconnected system of five freshwater lakes that lie on the border between the U.S. and Canada. Not only do these lakes sustain a rare and majestic ecosystem, but they are also a bustling hub of maritime activity.

The Great Lakes Region boasts a rich history of maritime commerce, industry and recreational boating. Lake Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie and Ontario accommodate several vessels like freighters, tankers, passenger vessels and small cargo ships.

Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are crucial arteries linking major industrial centres like Detroit, Cleveland, Toronto, Montreal, Chicago etc. Usually, bulk cargo like iron ore, coal, grain and stone are transported.

Per reports, over 100 ships ply on the waters of the Great Lakes simultaneously at any given time. Hence, there is a need for efficient great lakes ship tracking tools.

Given the importance of great lakes shipping for the region, monitoring ship positions, routes, arrivals etc., provides valuable information to the shipping agents, companies and authorities, allowing them to optimise their operations and ensure timely cargo deliveries.

Ship tracking tools also enhance safety and security so authorities can take action in case of emergencies. Also, ship enthusiasts or tourists can use great lakes ship tracking tools to witness the vibrant maritime landscape in real-time.

This article will explore some of the best great lakes ship tracker tools. These offer a wealth of information about the Great Lakes Shipping.

1. Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online (www.boatnerd.com)

Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online has a ship tracking feature to track vessels in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.

The website has two options on the homepage. You can either click on ‘Vessel Passage’ and then, from the drop-down menu you can, choose the desired port. Once chosen, you can see all the vessels at the port. In the Vessel Passage section, you will see a list of ships currently underway or expected to arrive at various ports.

To track a vessel in real-time, the website has AIS-derived maps showing current vessel locations throughout the Great Lakes. Each ship is indicated by an icon, and the pointed end of this icon displays the direction that the ship is travelling.

The vessel’s name appears next to the icon. Once you double-click the icon, another box containing information like the ship’s
MMSI, ship type, latitude and longitude, speed, course, heading dimensions and status appears.

You can look at many ships by clicking on different icons on the map. You can also search for a specific ship using its name, fleet code, or unique identification number. You will also find other information on the website, like historical data, news articles, photos, etc.

2. Marine Vessel Traffic

This website has many options, and one can choose to track vessels in lakes, canals, oceans, seas, fjords, sounds, lagoons etc. It also has a live map tracking option from where you can select freighters, tankers, container ships etc.

You can select the name of the company whose vessels you want to track or even search for a particular ship manually by typing its name or IMO or MMSI number.

You can also click on the ports option and select any cruise port or shipyard to get information about the ships at that port or those about to arrive shortly.

It also has a cool option named ‘Wartime Maps’, where you can see all the navy ships, patrol vessels, frigates, aircraft carriers, cruisers etc. and track them in real-time.

3. Ship Traffic

Shiptraffic.net is a maritime website that monitors ship traffic in 14 geo regions, including lakes, straits, canals, reefs etc.

Current vessel positions can be seen on the live ship tracking map, which is of AIS type, having a refresh rate of 60 seconds.

The dual map function allows users to compare and get information about ship traffic in a particular place side by side.

Hence, one can observe maritime distress situations, naval exercises, sinking of vessels, and salvage of crew members. Related to every geographical location, there is an option to view related photos and videos that direct you to google images and youtube.

To track great lakes freighters, click the Regions tab and select ‘lakes’ from the drop-down menu.

All the major lakes will be displayed. For instance, if you click on Lake Ontario, you can see the different cargo ships, freighters, tankers, container ships etc., marked by different colour icons, plying the lake’s waters.

4. VesselFinder

VesselFinder enables live ship tracking and has a comprehensive database of vessels, including the ones plying in the Great Lakes. It has a live AIS Map where one can find all the details about specific vessels, including their photos. One can track vessel positions, port calls, vessel particulars, expected arrivals, vessels in a specific area and so on.

The website also publishes maritime news, including pictures of ships. One can search for the same by simply typing the name of the ship or even the name of the photographer in the search bar.

One can click on the ports option and view all the ships docked at the port, along with all the details about the port, its arrivals and departures.

5. Marine Traffic

The Marine Traffic website allows you to track any vessel in real-time. You can go on the Live Map tab and explore the current maritime traffic in a particular region, know about the type of ships in the waters of that area and so on.

You can also type your query in the search bar and look for ports, regions, company fleets, etc. It also shows you a list of the most tracked vessels on the website, along with where they are located, their position, speed of travel, their physical dimensions etc.

You can type ‘great lakes’ or type the name of a particular lake to look for the vessels plying there.

It also shows a list of lighthouses and stations, and one can upload photos of their ship and even update their location on the website by going to the ‘Community’ tab.

6. Shiplocation

Ship Location is a great website for monitoring maritime traffic in the Great Lakes region. The website has a simple and user-friendly interface that makes navigating easy for users.

To track ships, click the ‘Tools’ tab and select ‘Lakes’. Then you will see a page with the names of different lakes. Select any lake, e.g., Lake Huron. After clicking, a map of the lake and the nearby regions will appear, showing all the ships in the lake. You can also look at ships docked in the nearby ports too.

Another map shows the ship traffic density in the lake.

You can also find a Shipyard or Ship Supplier, locate Ships by Geo Coordinates or even search by IMO & MMSI number.

You can track Container Shipments and stay informed about Container Ships’ Schedules. The tools section has a sea distance calculator, maritime locator, and the option of tracking by geo coordinates.

Hence, you can also calculate Sea distances between any two ports and find the shortest route, calculate ocean depths, wind speed, tides, wave height, lighthouse range and positions, and maritime weather using their Nautical Map.

You can track your favourite Cruise Ports, download Google Earth Trackers, inspect piracy incidents maps, and check daily Baltic Dry Index values and Bunker Prices.

7. Kencam.Net

This is a great place for those who enjoy looking at Great Lake Freighters from close. It shows live-streaming videos from 4 webcams located on St Mary’s River, between Port Huron and Algonac, and also Soo Locks and the entrance to Duluth Harbour.

It has several links; for instance, the Ship Locator Link shows a Marine Traffic Map with icons representing vessels in the area. By zooming, you can see and get information about a specific ship, its name, speed, course, photos etc.

The webcam links are labelled Port Huron North, close to Blue Water Bridge, Port Huron South, a bit south of the bridge; and Marine City and Algonac, towards Lake St. Clair. There is a link to the Soo, two to Duluth and another to Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Detroit’s Belle Isle.

8. Lakesuperior. news

This website offers much more information than just tracking vessels. It mentions exciting facts and figures about the Great Lakes, tweets about the Great Lakes, and news about the region.

It has links to youtube videos about famous ships that sank in the Great Lakes. The map is provided by another website called MarineTraffic, where one can directly track great lake freighters or any type of vessel anywhere in the world.

9. Infosuperior

This website has a map that displays commercial ship movements on Lake Superior. You can click on an icon to get more information about the vessel. Click on the ship, and a photo of the ship will appear. One can zoom in and out to find vessels in a specific location, such as Duluth or Thunder Bay Harbour.

The website is part of the InfoSuperior Research and Information Network, which marks the digital presence of the Remedial Action Plans program in Northern Ontario. It undertakes large-scale environmental restoration and protection projects through community engagement. They have spent 30 years restoring the health of Lake Superior.

Another exciting feature on the website is that it has Lake Research Data under the Tools section. It also has the option to track marine weather and also listen to podcasts related to Lake Superior.

10. Chuck Scott- N8DNX ( https://www.n8dnx.org/live-ship-tracking/)

This webpage provides live tracking of ships on Northern Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The live map is provided by MarineTraffic.com. The map can be dragged to view any area of the world and locate ships.

You can click on ship icons for more information and vessel pictures. You can right-click on these icons to make waypoints to measure distance. Similarly, Right-click again to clear tracks and waypoints.

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Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used in the article, have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendations on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

The article or images cannot be reproduced, copied, shared or used in any form without the permission of the author and Marine Insight.

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About Author

Zahra is an alumna of Miranda House, University of Delhi. She is an avid writer, possessing immaculate research and editing skills. Author of several academic papers, she has also worked as a freelance writer, producing many technical, creative and marketing pieces. A true aesthete at heart, she loves books a little more than anything else.

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