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Shipping Containers

Lost Shipping Containers

Have you seen pictures of cargo ships with containers stacked high above the deck? And have you wondered what happens when the ship is in a storm? Yes, containers get swept overboard, floating just below the surface for a while, then slowly sinking to the sea-floor. But what happens to them once they hit the bottom?

sunken shipping container

Out of the estimated 10,000 shipping containers that are lost every year only one has been found on the sea-floor. And that one was an accident, this container landed in an area being surveyed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

Under the sea: Life on a lost shipping container[^] is an interview BoingBoing’s Maggie Koerth-Baker had with MBARI’s research coordinator, Andrew DeVogelaere. In the interview they discuss some of environmental impacts of these steel boxes, such as corrosion and their possible use as a habitat for deep sea creatures. If nothing else it makes you realise how little we know about this strange, hostile environment.

Container Trackers

The world has already been exposed to train-, plane- and bus-spotters.  Now the BBC is about to unlease a new phenomenon on an unsuspecting world, Container-Trackers.  The BBC has created a branded and GPS enabled shipping container [^], and they will be posting updates on it’s whereabouts on their website.

BBC GPS-enbaled Container

BBC GPS-enabled Container

The current location of the container [^] can be found on a dedicated page of the BBC Website.

This project is part of a program being developed by the broadcaster to highlight how the global economy works.  As part of this the BBC will be filming stories at key points along the container’s journey.  These stories will be about the goods that are produced in the area the container picks up, and who is consuming those goods.  The whole project is known as “The Box”, and was partly inspired by the book of the same name by Mark Levinson.  That book tells the story of how the shipping container has revolutionised international trade over the past 50 years.

Luckily it seems that since the container is on active duty it will be pretty much paying it’s own way around the world.  The BBC is expecting to only be out of pocket for the cost of the stories that it films in the ports of call – unless the box get washed overboard!  This looks to be one of the best reality TV programs produced this year.