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teambenthos 01-16-2004 09:07 AM

biologists looking for assistance
Greetings! We''re a group of marine biologists from the Univ. of CT at Avery Point (you can check us out at We''re looking for some help from the boating community, but we''re not entirely sure where to start. I''m posting information below about what we''re doing with hope that people who travel along the eastern seaboard can make suggestions about where to post this information. We would really appreciate any help you can give. We''re trying to get as many people involved as possible!

Here''s the info.:

One of our upcoming research projects is evaluating the importance of recreational boat hulls in the transport of marine hull fouling species along the eastern seaboard. This project is a collaboration between researchers in the Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut and the Connecticut Sea Grant College Program.

Although non-native species are observed after they become established in a region, current understanding of how these species are introduced into New England is limited. We plan to determine the current distribution and local abundance of hull fouling species in four regions along the eastern seaboard. We will also monitor survivorship of hull fouling species on boats traveling along the coast to determine the potential of privately owned vessels to transport species from one region to another. Finally, we will examine assumptions made about the usefulness of procedures designed to reduce hull fouling (anti-fouling paints, scraping, etc.).

To conduct this research, we will be relying on voluntary assistance from boat owners along the eastern seaboard. We would like to examine the hulls of 40-50 boats that have over-wintered in the Ft. Lauderdale area. In addition, we are looking for at least 10 boat owners traveling north from Ft. Lauderdale to New England during the spring or summer of 2004 who would be willing to allow us to survey their hull 2-3 days prior to their departure from Ft. Lauderdale (or other southern locales) and again upon arrival at their northern destination. Names and identifying information of vessels and boat owners will be kept anonymous. All surveys will be performed by qualified SCUBA divers. Divers will take underwater photographs of 10 locations on each hull to determine individual species and overall extent of hull fouling. A plastic scraper and suction device (similar to a vacuum cleaner) will also be used to collect samples of organisms for species identification.

A copy of our hull fouling survey form can be found at ( I''m currently redesigning our web page and will be making a few changes to the survey form as well as posting more information about our project. Connecticut Sea Grant has donated copies of an excellent boating safety book (Water Wise by Jerry Dzugan and S. C. Jensen) for anyone who chooses to participate in completing the survey. If you fill out the form before I add a box for your name/address at the bottom (it will specifically state that you should enter your name to receive a copy of the book after I change it), you can either enter your information on question 8 or send a separate email to

Thanks for reading through this and feel free to get in touch if you have questions!

paulk 01-16-2004 07:56 PM

biologists looking for assistance
It would be interesting to find out if some of these "invasive species" were reponsible for lobster die-offs or other problems. Most boaters I know don''t quibble about what''s growing on our boat bottoms -- we simply hose & scrape off whatever''s there. Identifying what we''re dealing with might be very informative. Press releases and/or calls & letters to marine publications like Cruising World might be very productive. We have friends who have cruised south for the winter - but we probably won''t see them again until they return in the spring!

teambenthos 01-20-2004 08:56 AM

biologists looking for assistance
Thanks for your input! I think Cruising World might be my next stop. And if you''re ever curious about what those slimy things growing on your boat are, let us know! Our plan is to survey boats next year, too, if anyone wants to participate next year. Now if I could only find a way to hitch a ride on one of these boats traveling up the coast...more fun than sitting in a lab watching the boats cruise by!

hamiam 01-20-2004 12:37 PM

biologists looking for assistance
I would suggest writing to sailing/boating publications including crusing world, blue water sailor, sail, sailing, Soundings, etc. Im sure one or more would either publish a letter from you and/or do a story on your work. Good luck.

pirateofcapeann 01-20-2004 04:22 PM

biologists looking for assistance
Windfall is leaving Florida for the Bahamas and will be heading back to New England in the spring. She''s a 50-foot Hinkley. Her bottom was treated with a copper based epoxy barrier coat for long-term antifowling protection about a year and a half ago and I don''t think it has had any service since then. She spent last summer here in Gloucester but they can give you all the particulars. Tell ''em I sent ya''.

teambenthos 01-21-2004 04:56 AM

biologists looking for assistance
Thank you much Pi! I just sent them an email. Wish I were on my way to the Bahamas. I''m from a sailing family, but I''ve never been out on open water. It''s a dream of mine though and reading through posts here is giving me itchy feet.

teambenthos 02-10-2004 07:27 AM

biologists looking for assistance
quick update...We''ve sent out information to most, if not all, large marinas in the Ft. Lauderdale, FL area. If you, or someone you know, will be sailing from that area to New England and want to get involved, we would love to hear from you! At this point, a few marina operators have agreed to let us survey their docks, but we have yet to hear back from boat owners. This is a great opportunity to get directly involved with research and learn more about the environment. Surely someone is interested?

dpboatnut 02-10-2004 06:47 PM

biologists looking for assistance
Out of curiosity, why not examine the contents of the ballast water transported by tankers between ports? I recall reading recently that they were actually a large contributor to the spread of invasive species throught the world''s shipping ports. By comparison, to focus upon a few tidbits on a few recreational boats seems peculiar. I am often baffled by the frequent focus on second- and third-order effects while the first-order stuff gets ignored when it isn''t sexy.

Without besmirching the intentions of the biologists making the initial request, I fear this leading to a headline that reads "Yachties Responsible for Wildlife Devastation". I hope that is not their intention.


GordMay 02-10-2004 11:59 PM

biologists looking for assistance
Ballast Water Regs Coming
New Convention to be adopted at IMO

A new international convention to prevent the potentially devastating effects of the spread of harmful aquatic organisms carried by ships'' ballast water is set to be adopted at an international conference to be held from 9 to13 February 2004 at the London Headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution from ships.

The proposed new instrument is being developed on the basis of a two-tier approach.

Tier 1 includes requirements that would apply to all ships, including mandatory requirements for a Ballast Water and Sediments Management Plan, a Ballast Water Record Book and a requirement that new ships carry out ballast water management procedures to a given standard. Existing ships would be required to do the same, but after a phase-in period.

Tier 2 gives Parties the option to take additional measures before ships would be allowed to enter their ports. Such additional measures are subject to criteria set in the draft convention and to IMO guidelines yet to be developed, and may also include additional controls applicable to discharge and/or uptake areas of ballast water.

IMO Secretary-General Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos has highlighted the urgent need to agree the proposed new mandatory instrument to regulate the management of ship ballast water and sediment and prevent the transfer of unwanted species from one ecosystem to another.

"This is an extremely serious environmental issue which IMO has been working on for more than a decade. The fact of the matter is that ships, by carrying thousands of tonnes of ballast water from one part of the world to another, can transfer pathogens and other micro-organisms and invasive species which have the capacity to distort and destroy the very delicate balance which exists in the ecosystem of the region where the ballast water is offloaded," Mr. Mitropoulos said.

"Unlike oil spills and other marine pollution caused by shipping, exotic organisms and marine species cannot be cleaned up or absorbed into the oceans. Once introduced, they can be virtually impossible to eliminate and in the meantime may cause havoc" he added.

Specific examples include the introduction of the European zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) in the Great Lakes between Canada and the United States, resulting in expenses of billions of dollars for pollution control and cleaning of fouled underwater structures and waterpipes; and the introduction of the American comb jelly (Mnemiopsis leidyi) to the Black and Azov Seas, causing the near extinction of anchovy and sprat fisheries.

The problem of invasive species is largely due to the expanded trade and traffic volume over the last few decades. The effects in many areas of the world have been devastating. Quantitative data show the rate of bio-invasions is continuing to increase at an alarming rate, in many cases exponentially, and new areas are being invaded all the time. Volumes of seaborne trade continue overall to increase and the problem may not yet have reached its peak.

It is estimated that about 10 billion tonnes of ballast water are transferred globally each year, potentially transferring from one location to another species of sealife that may prove ecologically harmful when released into a non-native environment.

The problem of harmful aquatic organisms in ballast water was first raised at IMO in 1988 and since then IMO''s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), together with the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) and technical sub-committees, have been dealing with the issue, focusing in the past decade first on guidelines and then on developing the new convention.

GloBallast Programme

In order to help developing countries understand the problem, monitor the situation and prepare for the convention, IMO is implementing the GEF/UNDP/IMO Global Ballast Water Management Programme (GloBallast: ) and has provided technical support and expertise.

The conference will be preceded by the GloBallast 5th Global Project Task Force (GPTF) Meeting scheduled to take place also at the IMO Headquarters from 3 to 6 February 2004.


Scientists first recognized the signs of an alien species introduction after a mass occurrence of the Asian phytoplankton algae Odontella (Biddulphia sinensis) in the North Sea in 1903.

But it was not until the 1970s that the scientific community began reviewing the problem in detail. In the late 1980s, Canada and Australia were among countries experiencing particular problems with unwanted species, and they brought their concerns to the attention of IMO''s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC).

In 1991 the MEPC adopted MEPC resolution 50(31) - Guidelines for Preventing the Introduction of Unwanted Organisms and Pathogens from Ships'' Ballast Water and Sediment Discharges; while the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, recognized the issue as a major international concern.

In November 1993, the IMO Assembly adopted resolution A.774(18) - Guidelines for Preventing the Introduction of Unwanted Organisms and Pathogens from Ships'' Ballast Water and Sediment Discharges, based on the Guidelines adopted in 1991. The resolution requested the MEPC and the MSC to keep the Guidelines under review with a view to developing internationally applicable, legally-binding provisions.

The 20th Assembly of IMO in November 1997 adopted resolution A.868(20) - Guidelines for the control and management of ships'' ballast water to minimize the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens.

The development of the draft mandatory instrument has been continuing since then.

teambenthos 02-11-2004 08:12 AM

biologists looking for assistance
Wow! Thanks for the information GordMay.

There are a few reasons we are focusing on recreational hulls instead of commercial vessels. One of the main reasons is that studies have traditionally focused on commercial tankers, cruise ships, and cargo vessels. At this point, there is simply less information about hull fouling communities on recreational vessels. We''re hoping to expand the knowledge base (with a lot of help from individuals who cruise the eastern seaboard!), but slapping regulations on yachters is not one of our goals. If you''re interested in a funny, yet fairly honest, assessment of what is involved in being a research marine biologist, check out this link

Also, here''s a short, general background...
Transport of species on hulls has occurred since humans began using oceans for exploration and commerce. The change from wooden ships to steel or fiberglass stopped the transport of wood-boring species, but hull fouling species have remained an issue. On commercial vessels, fouling species in ballast water, anchor wells, dry dock strips on keels, and hulls have been studied. There''s some great information on invasive species and current work at the Smithsonian webpage and also CSIRO, an Australian site, Australia has been hit by some serious invasions that are devastating shipping and mariculture industries there. If you''re interested, it''s worthwhile to look into some of the work that is being done there. And if anyone wants more specific information about our project (or has other biology questions), feel free to email me directly at

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