Invasive species can have catastrophic effects on an ecosystem. From algae to jellyfish, ports around the world are faced with a problem, but first, it's necessary to understand how the problem got there.
Researchers at the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, Germany set out to crack the case of marine invasive species. Where are they coming from and how did they get there? They knew that many small species hitch a ride in the ballast water of cargo ships, so they plotted the course of 16,363 ships during 2007 to look for connections.
Before now, it was assumed that invasive species were more likely coming from nearby ports, but researchers discovered that wasn't the case.
They found that container ships follow regular routes, but oil tankers and dry bulk carriers often change routes. Container ships tend to travel quickly and don't spend long at port. On the other hand, oil tankers and dry bulk carriers travel more slowly, spend more time at port and exchange ballast water more often due to the fact that they spend a lot of time traveling without cargo, making them important to watch.
From their analysis they were able to find the world's most connected ports which would be the most prone to the introduction of invasive species. They compiled a list of 20 with the top five being the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal, Shanghai, Singapore and Antwerp.
Hopefully this new data will help affected ports monitor these stowaways and come up with an environmentally responsible plan. As is the case with all informational maps, they add to our understanding of a problem, which usually helps create a solution.
written by Jimm M., April 27, 2010
|< Prev||Next >|