Monitoring invasive species in our area

Three Bays Preservation and Nantucket Soundkeepers have joined forces in the past to monitor for marine aquatic invasive species that have moved into our coastal waters. Unfortunately, Nantucket Soundkeepers is no longer in existence, but Three Bays Preservation made the decision to continue with the program alone.  As part of the Aquatic Invasive Species Program devised by the Office of Coastal Zone Management for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Three Bays Preservation is actively monitoring several areas in the Marstons Mills River watershed.

Biological invasions have emerged as one of the leading environmental threats to our coastal and marine habitats. Marine biological invaders are species that have been moved beyond their natural geographic range by human activities. While human-mediated activities have redistributed organisms around the world for centuries, the number of species being relocated and released by transport methods or vectors continues at an unprecedented rate (Carlton 1989).

These introduced species are called by many names: non-native, non-indigenous, introduced, alien, or exotic. When an introduced species has the ability to reproduce in large numbers and to out-compete native species for food and space, they can offset the natural ecological balance. With nothing to keep non-indigenous species in check, these invaders can have damaging affects on their new environments. They can become invasive or nuisance species.

Invasive species are considered second only to human development in causing declines in the total number of species in the U.S. and worldwide, and millions of dollars are spent in control efforts. However, not all non-natives become invasive or destructive. Predicting when or how an introduced species will affect its new environment can be difficult. This is why it is so important that we work to reduce the spread of introduced species before they become invasive.

We have included “Guide to Marine Invaders” cards to help everyone identify any of these invaders. There are cards on 13 known invaders and 7 potential invaders (these are species that have been spotted in neighboring coastal areas). If you happen to see any of these species, please feel free to notify us and we will confirm the sightings and report them to the Mass CZM office.

For further information on Marine Aquatic Invasive Species, please visit Salem Sound Coastwatch or the Office of Coastal Zone Management.