Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Invasion Beyond the Coast: An Ecosystem in Danger

In recent news, scientists have become increasingly concerned over the presence of 16 non-native marine fish species of the eastern coast of the United States. In this, the first of the three part series Invasion Beyond the Coast, we will look at the groups that are leading the charge to classify this threat to our oceans.

Researchers believe that the presence of the fish, which include species of Angelfish, Tangs, Lionfish, is most likely due to hobbyists releasing them into the wild. These fish have been tracked by REEF.org for many years now. One of the goals of reef.org is to catalog the population size and location of each of the non-native species. This data, along with research from many other institutions including the National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC), will be used to gauge the impact of these aquatic aliens on the natural habitats.

The NISIC aquatic division usually tracks freshwater species, but recently has become responsible for marine life as well. This government entity was created in 1999 under Executive Order 13112 by President Clinton. Their mission is to track and catalog all non-native and invasive species in the United States. With this data they gauge the economic and environmental impacts and devise solutions.

For more information on how you can help, visit REEF.org.

Be sure to catch the next installment of Invasive Beyond the Coast, where we will discuss the past and current threats to biodiversity.