Queen's marine biologist investigates aliens beneath the waves

Jun 16, 2008
Styela clava
Styela clava, one of the non-native species which has been found in UK waters. Credit: John Bishop / Marine Biological Association

Queen's University Belfast is appealing for help from the public in looking at ways to detect and stop the spread of marine aliens.

Activities such as aquaculture, shipping and recreational boating have led to an army of marine alien species hitchhiking around the globe. Now Queen's is attempting to find out exactly where and how non-native species get a foothold in a new area. To do this it is asking for help from the public to record what they have seen.

Part of the Marine Aliens consortium, co-ordinated by the Scottish Association for Marine Science, the project will use the information gathered to look at how invasions can be slowed or preferably prevented. It is very difficult to eradicate an organism once it has become established in a new area.

Professor Christine Maggs, from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen's, said:

"While exotic plants and animals like rhododendrons and grey squirrels are obvious in the British Isles, beneath the waves a hidden invasion of non-native species is taking place around our shores.

"Many marine aliens have left their natural enemies behind and may compete with native species with potentially disastrous consequences for aquaculture, tourism and other marine activities.

"But we can all do our bit for biosecurity - anyone who has a boat or who visits the shore can help by telling scientists what they have seen."

A guide on the Marine Aliens website will help the public identify some of the non-native species which are least wanted, including the Japanese seaweed Sargassum, which has become extremely common in Strangford Lough, the Chinese mitten crab, already found in Ireland, and two species that have not arrived here yet, the Japanese skeleton shrimp and a colonial sea squirt. The site is at www.marlin.ac.uk/marine_aliens

Records of marine life should include as a minimum what was seen, and where and when it was seen. They can be made online at www.marlin.ac.uk/rml and sightings in Ireland can also be reported through the invasive species Ireland website www.invasivespeciesireland.com

Source: Queen's University Belfast

Explore further: Compact wool measurement tool may find home on the range

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Baleen whales hear through their bones

Jan 29, 2015

Understanding how baleen whales hear has posed a great mystery to marine mammal researchers. New research by San Diego State University biologist Ted W. Cranford and University of California, San Diego engineer ...

UNL drillers help make new Antarctic discoveries

Jan 21, 2015

Using a hot-water drill and an underwater robotic vehicle designed, built and operated by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln engineering team, scientists have made new discoveries about Antarctica's geology ...

Recommended for you

GMO mosquito plan sparks outcry in Florida

3 hours ago

A British company's plan to unleash hordes of genetically modified mosquitoes in Florida to reduce the threat of dengue fever and other diseases has sparked an outcry from fearful residents.

Population genomics unveil seahorse domain

22 hours ago

In a finding vital to effective species management, a team including City College of New York biologists has determined that the lined seahorse (Hippocampus erectus) is more a permanent resident of the we ...

IBM and Mars join together to make food safer with genetics

Jan 30, 2015

(Phys.org)—Computer giant IBM, and food giant Mars, have announced a joint project they are calling "Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain." The idea is to use modern microbiology, computer crunching ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.