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A short stroll through the Bosphorus Strait
The Bosphorus Strait, coupled with its beauty and its strategic position, has unique characteristics. It connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and separates the continents of Asia and Europe.
Currently, there are two important straits in Turkish waters. The Bosphorus Strait, which is about 30 kilometers long and 700 meters wide runs through Istanbul. The other is the Dardanel Strait, which is in Canakkale and is 68 kilometers long and 1.2 km kilometers wide. From ancient times to today these two straits formed important maritime passages.
A new waterway project has been launched called Channel Istanbul, which will run parallel to the Bosphorus. It aims to reduce shipping traffic in the Bosphorus Strait, particularly by tankers.
The Beautiful Bosphorus
The demand for access by shipping companies is increasing each year.
Some 150 million tons of oil and oil products are transported through the Straits. The throughput capacity of the Bosphorus, however, is estimated at 200 million tons. There are concerns though that such heavy traffic increases the risk of an accident that could cause massive environmental damage near Istanbul.
In 2017, 42,978 ships of various sizes and types (such as dry bulk, gas carriers, and oil tankers) passed through the Bosphorus Strait. Additionally, many passenger and car ferries, fishing and pleasure boats – especially in summer – clog up the strait.
Navigation is, however, extremely difficult in the Bosphorus. There are sharp turns and strong and complex currents. Changeable weather conditions also hamper navigation. A ship in the Strait can be swiftly surrounded by heavy fog reducing visibility to zero. Boats must use an experienced pilot to guide them through.
In accordance with the Montreux Straits Convention of 1936, commercial vessels passing by Bosphorus Strait do not have to pay passage fees. The guidance companies, however, that provide the pilots are an important source of income for local communities, and prices they charge vary depending on the tonnage of the ship.
A stroll through the Bosphorus should be added to the list of things to do before you die and everyone should discover the beauty of this noble waterway on a passenger steamer, a perennial symbol of the Bosphorus Strait.