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Whats New

The Marine Aliens project

Monday 13th September 2010

From Chinese mitten crabs digging away at river banks to sea squirts that smother the sea bed, it seems that marine non-native species are never far from the news. The Marine Aliens project is focussing scientific attention on ways in which invasive non-native species arrive in the UK, and has launched its new website which hosts the results of research, educational projects and information for users of inshore waters.

Marine Aliens is a consortium of research organisations, co-ordinated by the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), whose aim is to protect native biodiversity by finding out how exactly marine non-native species arrive on our shores. The main focus of the project is hull fouling, or how marine organisms grow on boat hulls and are then transported from one port to another.

'Biological invasions' are helped by increased maritime activity and by creating ideal habitats for marine life in sheltered areas where many boats come and go. Marinas are perfect jumping-off points for all sorts of seaweeds, sea squirts, crustaceans, molluscs and more. Of particular concern are some species of sea squirts whose biological traits make them perfectly suited to colonizing new areas. One of these, the carpet sea squirt, can blanket mooring chains, pontoons and aquaculture equipment, and can even smother areas of the sea bed, forcing out native plants and animals.

Guy Baker, Communications Officer at the Marine Biological Association said "The threats from invasive non-native species to our marine environment are increasing and this matters not simply because of losses of native biodiversity, but also because biological invasions are potentially damaging to the industries that depend on healthy and productive inshore waters."

Public outreach is an important part of the project and the website links to ways to get involved, from marine life recording of non-native species to projects for recreational boat owners and schools.

For more information about the Marine Aliens project, visit the web site at www.marlin.ac.uk/marine_aliens

For more information about marine life recording see: www.marlin.ac.uk/howtorecord.php

We have a number of free waterproof identification guides to give away on a first-come-first served basis. Please see: www.marlin.ac.uk/idguides.php for details.


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