MARSHFIELD (CBS) – A scientific search party fanned out today along the Massachusetts coast. Members of the team know just what they’re looking for: unwanted and potentially dangerous visitors.
A team from the MIT Sea Grant and the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs is spending 4 days taking samples at places like Taylor Marina in Marshfield. “We have here the European shrimp. This is a species we first discovered here along the New England coast in 2010, and since then it has really exploded in numbers,” says Jim Carlton from Williams College and Mystic Seaport.
They’re creating an inventory of non-native species that have taken up residence and could present a threat. “A lot of these non-native species are coming in and displacing our native communities,” says Dr. Judy Pederson of the MIT Sea Grant.
While some team members scrape the sides of docks for samples, divers search the undersides. They’re finding organisms that probably hitched a ride, probably on ship hulls and ballast water to get here from overseas. They take this inventory every few years to track the spread of the outsiders. The information helps with prevention and control. “I always tell people to think of weeds in their backyards. If you keep after a weed it eventually goes away. Same thing here. If you keep after these organisms you can contain them in smaller areas or prevent them from spreading to other areas,” says Pederson.
Along with the search in Marshfield, scientists are also inspecting structures in Salem, Boston, Sandwich, Bourne, Woods Hole, New Bedford and Westport.