Let's see some tracker apps!
April 6, 2021 5:09 AM   Subscribe

I've been using an app called Marine Traffic to see which ships are coming into my city's port and track where they go, and last night I discovered an app called Shark Tracker by Osearch that lets you see the locations of tagged sharks. What other apps are out there for tracking things?

Here are my parameters:

I'm looking to track animals or physical things, not things like habits, things I eat, or time.

A search function to find particular items is helpful (for example, if a ship leaves port I like to find it again a few days later to see what it's doing).

The odder or more obscure the tracking subject, the better!

Let's see some tracking apps!
posted by christinetheslp to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Blitzortung: Track lightning storms in real time as they drift across the world.
posted by Eleven at 5:31 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]

APRS beacons (amateur radio, weather balloons and what not)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:39 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]

Not particularly obscure, but Flightradar24 for aircraft.
posted by primethyme at 6:09 AM on April 6 [4 favorites]

Flightaware has a live map of all planes currently in the air. They're better known for their specific flight tracking, but it's fun to see what's going on at a particular place, too. I just learned that a Piper Cherokee just flew over me as I was typing this.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:14 AM on April 6 [2 favorites]

Literally just stumbled across Animal Tracker (iOS App Store) which lets you track a variety of animals. Have only spent a few minutes on it so far, but looks fun. Check out the news tab for a live stork cam!
posted by ClarissaWAM at 6:23 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]

Cicada Safari is an app for tracking the emergence of cyclical cicada broods. And Brood X is imminent!
posted by pixiecrinkle at 7:01 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]

I used ISS Finder the other night and caught the space station flying directly over my house.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:18 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]

And, speaking of space stuff, if you really want your mind blown check out LeoLabs' Visualizer - showing you all the things that are currently whizzing by over your head.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:23 AM on April 6 [3 favorites]

mPING has crowdsourced weather reports. I can look at the app & see where people around me have marked that it is currently raining, etc.
posted by belladonna at 8:25 AM on April 6

It's not direct tracking, but iNaturalist collates flora and fauna sightings by location.
posted by zamboni at 9:50 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]

Chicago snow-plow tracker (not running at the moment, and the Scottish gritters have much better names, but I think I found it here on MeFi) and of course all that stuff in space.
posted by Rat Spatula at 11:44 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


ESRI's 3D real-time map of all satellites is pretty cool. Click on any dot and it will tell you what it is, with links to N2YO which is more focused on tracking individual satellites of interest.

You don't mention what platform you're using but there's various phone apps for satellite tracking - and because your phone knows where you are, they can show you not just a map but where satellites are in the sky you're looking up at. In the right conditions at some times of night, you can spot some of them when they reflect a bit of sunlight.

(Amateur radio enthusiasts also use these apps for pointing antennas at passing satellites and transmitting & receiving signals through them. Which is surprisingly easy to do, if that sounds cool to anyone)
posted by automatronic at 1:08 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]

ADSBexchange.com is similar to FlightRadar and FlightAware, but does not accept money/requests to filter out aircraft from billionaires, dictators, and the military.
posted by bug138 at 6:04 PM on April 6 [2 favorites]

Almost all yacht races that last for more than a few hours have some sort of tracking on a web site. The ones I think might appeal to you are the around-the-world races of which there a a few varieties. Unfortunately, now is not the time. Its coming on winter in the southern hemisphere, not a good time to be in the southern ocean.

One to look forward to here.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:14 AM on April 7

I like CruiseMapper. Granted, there aren't exactly a ton of cruises happening now, but it also tracks ferries and other things.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:23 PM on April 7

Sky Circles note aircraft circling over several US cities.
posted by eotvos at 11:59 PM on April 7

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