Volunteers are being asked to help track an alien invasion taking place around the UK’s coastline, with an event taking place locally this Sunday at Runswick Bay .
For centuries, marine species have moved around either by hitching ride on the hulls of ships or as stowaways in ballast water. In many instances, species have been deliberately introduced for commercial purposes.
Now, a national campaign to record non-native marine species is taking place to map the extent to which non-native marine species are present and to help scientists understand the impact they are having on the coastal environment.
The Marine Invaders campaign runs from today to Monday and is part of the of the three-year Capturing our Coast (CoCoast) project, led by Newcastle University and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
On Sunday, you can join the team at Runswick Bay from 11am where, in addition to Marine Invaders, the team will also be running a BioBlitz event – grid reference: NZ 80913 15972; post code: TS13 5HT. Marine Invaders is open to the public, all ages, and no special training is required to take part. You can visit any site you choose over this weekend and records can be uploaded to the CoCoast website, and shared on social media using #marineinvaders
Regular CoCoast volunteer Dave Bell, who will be taking part in the Marine Invaders campaign, said: “I’m taking part because I am concerned with the interaction of the invasive species with the existing local inhabitants.”
Dr Nova Mieszkowska, Marine Biological Association of the UK Research Fellow says: “Non-native species can have both positive and negative effects on local marine communities that they invade and colonise. We still have much to learn about how non-native species affect the ecology of our shores, and this campaign will help to fill this knowledge gap.”
One example of an invasive marine species is the seaweed, Sargassum muticum, commonly called wireweed. This is thought to have arrived in UK waters in the 1960s and now has spread as far as the Isle of Skye. It is thought to be responsible for displacing local species by starving them of sunlight.
Visit www.capturingourcoast.co.uk to sign up.