This story first appeared in the SERC quarterly Newsletter Spring 2007

Traveling Cities and Other Concerns

Like small reefs, oil platforms form the building blocks of underwater communities of fish and invertebrates. When they are moved, which they often are, the community may move too. But little is really known about these mobile underwater cities because there seems to be no current method in place to track their travels throughout the world. That’s one of the issues recently addressed when SERC and Texas A&M University Harte Research Institute organized a workshop on Marine Invasive Species in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. The meeting gathered scientists and government representatives from the United States and the Caribbean and Gulf countries of Mexico, Trinidad, Jamaica and Venezuela.

Their talks focused on the status of marine invaders in the Gulf and Caribbean and the challenges posed by the unique features of a broad area of incredibly diverse in environments and species. They identified the present level of knowledge about many of the ecosystems in the area and about the potential for organisms to move between and potentially invade different regions within the Gulf and the Caribbean. There are a wide range of potential vectors for invasive species here; from the tropical fish trade to ship hulls and ballast water to the movement of oil drilling platforms.

The workshop served as an opening dialogue to more scientific study and highlighted the need for expanded regional cooperation in science, policy, and management to mediate and prevent the ecological, economic and public health impacts associated with marine invasive species.

For more information, please contact SERC science writer Kristen Minogue.