This 3D Map of the Undersea Cables Connecting the Globe is Mesmerizing

A world of information is thrumming through miles of cables laying on the ocean floor. This map will show you where they are.
September 23, 2021, 1:00pm
A 3D map of the world's fiber optic cables.

Our world is awash in cables. Underneath the waves, hundreds of fiber optic cables link the planet in a web of hyper-connected information. A map of these cables spun around the globe is beautiful behold.

The data was visualized by coder Tyler Morgan-Wall using a simple script and GeoJSON—an open source format for visualizing geographic features. The data comes from Submarine Cable Map, a website run by TeleGeography, a geographic data intel company. According to TeleGeography, there are 426 active submarine cables in the world. The cables are mostly the diameter of a garden hose and filled with filaments the width of a human hair.

The cables lie on the ocean floor and are believed to span more than 807,000 miles. Some are very short, linking islands across a few miles like the one that runs between Ireland and the United Kingdom. Others, like one of the cables connecting Asia to the United States, are more than 10,000 miles long.

The cables do break and need to be repaired, and new cables are being laid down all the time. Contrary to popular myth, sharks are not prone to chewing on the cables.