California Academy of Sciences: How Quickly Do Ships Cross the Oceans?

Ships cross waters in a matter of days or weeks.

Shipping lanes not only connect human societies, but they also connect biological environments through which they pass—often resulting in the transport of invasive species. This clip demonstrates global ship traffic over an eleven day period.

Exploring Invasive Species

This clip shows the movements of ship traffic around the globe over an 11-day period in May of 2014. A great way to use this clip in your classroom is to explore invasive species. Invasive species can migrate worldwide by being transported in the ballast water of ships. Ships from many parts of the world have traveled to the San Francisco Bay, making it the most invaded bay in the world.

You can use this clip in your classroom by asking your students to use the data presented in the clip to estimate the current rate at which invasive species enter the San Francisco Bay. This will require some outside research, estimations and calculations, and assumptions on the part of your students, and should hopefully lead to stimulating discussion about how invasive species are transported and how quickly they can spread.

Connections to Standards

Next Generation Science Standards Disciplinary Core Ideas
  • LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems:
    • (5) Organisms can survive only in environments in which their particular needs are met. A healthy ecosystem is one in which multiple species of different types are each able to meet their needs in a relatively stable web of life. Newly introduced species can damage the balance of an ecosystem.
    • (6-8) Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors.
    • (6-8) In any ecosystem, organisms and populations with similar requirements for food, water, oxygen, or other resources may compete with each other for limited resources, access to which consequently constrains their growth and reproduction. Predatory interactions may reduce the number of organisms or eliminate whole populations of organisms.
  • LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience:
    • (6-8) Biodiversity describes the variety of species found in Earth’s terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems. The completeness or integrity of an ecosystem’s biodiversity is often used as a measure of its health.
    • (9-12) Anthropogenic changes (induced by human activity) in the environment–including habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, overexploitation, and climate change– can disrupt an ecosystem and threaten the survival of some species. ​
  • LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans:
    • ​(6-8) Changes in biodiversity can influence humans’ resources, such as food, energy, and medicines, as well as ecosystem services that humans rely on.
    • (9-12) Humans depend on the living world for the resources and other benefits provided by biodiversity. But human activity is also having adverse impacts on biodiversity through overpopulation, overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and climate change. Thus sustaining biodiversity so that ecosystem functioning and productivity are maintained is essential to supporting and enhancing life on Earth. Sustaining biodiversity also aids humanity by preserving landscapes of recreational or inspirational value.
  • ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems:
    • ​(5) The ocean supports a variety of ecosystems and organisms, shapes landforms, and influences climate.
  • ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems:
    • ​(5) Human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major effects on the land, vegetation, streams, ocean, air, and even outer space. But individuals and communities are doing things to help protect Earth’s resources and environments.
    • (6-8) Typically as human populations and per-capita consumption of natural resources increase, so do the negative impacts on Earth unless the activities and technologies involved are engineered otherwise.
    • (9-12) Scientists and engineers can make major contributions by developing technologies that produce less pollution and waste and that preclude ecosystem degradation.

California Environmental Principles and Concepts

  • Principle IV: The exchange of matter between natural systems and human societies affects the long-term functioning of both.
    • Concept b: Students need to know that the byproducts of human activity are not readily prevented from entering natural systems and may be beneficial, neutral, or detrimental in their effect.
How Have Teachers Used this Video Clip?
“How Quickly do Ships Cross the Ocean and How Many Planes Are in the Sky are great videos to show modern transportation. Students get a great visual on human impact by seeing all of those lights and what they represent. The habitat earth video is a great overview that ties in many subjects and provides a scaffold for students to build content on.” -6th Grade Science Teacher from Stockton, CA

Before direct teaching of AP environmental science curriculum, I commonly set-up a leaning unit through a current event video or collaborative learning method. These materials offer options to integrate into learning units that keep the content current and relevant.” -High School Environmental and Physical Science Teacher from San Jose, CA

Have an idea you’d like us to post on this page? Email us.

Visualizations based on aggregated data provide the unique opportunity to engage your students in various Science Practices highlighted in the Next Generation Science Standards, including asking questions, analyzing and interpreting data, and constructing explanations. As an example, Academy educators developed sample activities such as this one and this one.

Science Topics
Biology, Ecology
Middle School, High School, College, Educator
6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade, 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade

What are you looking for?


California Academy of Sciences

Website URL

Type of Resource


Assigned Categories