The Most Interesting Cargo Ever Shipped


Working in the shipping industry for several years now, I have handled a broad variety of commodities and cargo. The other day I received a phone call that got me thinking about what could be the most interesting cargo ever shipped. The person on the other line of the phone was looking for a service provider for live cattle. At first it made me laugh, since I personally focus on and have experience in containerized and project shipments, but then I started to wonder how this specific shipment is handled, since obviously someone is shipping these live animals. I started to think about what else people are looking to move from one place to another. Let’s not forget, we are talking about logistics, and everything can be moved from A to B with the proper preparation and attention.

Here is some of the most interesting cargo ever shipped:

In 2010 in Auckland, New Zealand there was a very unusual discovery. A 70 centimeters boa constrictor (a large, heavy-bodied species of snake) loaded with yucca trees was found on a vessel that departed from Guatemala. The inspector decided to check inside a container that was leaking water. Once the container doors opened they were in for a surprise, as a snake is not something you see on board a vessel everyday. For sure this must have been one of the most unpleasant moments of that inspector’s life. It was later found that the owner had packed the boa in ice, and not indicated on the container or declared  in the papers that it contained a live animal.

Not all unusual cargo shipped will be as dangerous as snakes or hazardous chemicals. For example in a recent oil spill incident in the Gulf Region in 2010,  more than 25,000 sea turtles eggs were shipped from northern Mexico to the eastern Florida coast in order to protect the wild life.

Another strange thing was transported between 2005 and 2006 from Taipei, Taiwan to Georgia Aquarium in the United States is two female and two male whale sharks. The whale sharks, named Ralph, Norton, Alice and Trixie flew 8000 miles to get to their new home, the Georgia Aquarium. Even though the whole project sounds pretty cute and sweet, considering the size of these animals the logistics of such a move is highly complex. Let’s not forget these are huge live animals and this project must require an incredible amount of planning and logistics knowledge. Actually, the whales were not the only species delivered to the aquarium; they also shipped 42 containers holding smaller aquatic animals.

Not only animals are part of unusual shipped cargos, there can also be priceless ancient monuments. Recently 2,200 year old Chinese Terra Cotta Warriors, horses and other artifacts were shipped from Shanghai to four U.S. Museums for exhibits. The Terra Cotta Warriors will be shipped back to Shanghai once their work is done in the U.S.

The last and the most interesting one is not shipped internationally but to me it is the most amazing one” The space shuttle Discovery was shipped from Florida to Washington to join the collection at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. The Space shuttle was positioned onto the back of an aircraft, which was its last flight to its permanent home in the Smithsonian.