Day of reckoning for marine invaders

Dr. Jacqui Pocklington (Marine Ecologist) and Dave Bell(Citizen Scientist) pictured at Brown's Bay, Cullercoats analysing marine life ahead of a call for volunteers for the next national 'CoCoast' campaign.'Pic: Mike Urwin. 110817
Dr. Jacqui Pocklington (Marine Ecologist) and Dave Bell(Citizen Scientist) pictured at Brown's Bay, Cullercoats analysing marine life ahead of a call for volunteers for the next national 'CoCoast' campaign.'Pic: Mike Urwin. 110817

Volunteers are being asked to help track an alien invasion taking place around the UK’s coastline.

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 aquaculture or other commercial purposes.

Now, a national campaign is taking place to map where non-native species have invaded the UK coastline, and to help scientists understand the impact they are having on the coastal environment.

The Marine Invaders campaign will run from Friday until next 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.

Dr Jacqui Pocklington, CoCoast project co-ordinator, said: “Some non-native species that find their way to our shores don’t always stick around.

“Of the species that do succeed, some have a positive effect – for example, they might become a new food source for existing species and increase the biodiversity of the marine environment.

“Others thrive a bit too well and can become pests. These invasive species compete for resources and introduce new diseases. If we can map the non-native species around our coastline then we can get a better understanding of how they’re affecting the marine environment.”

Visit www.capturingour coast.co.uk