July 23, 2010

International Team of Scientists to Conduct Rapid Assessment Survey of Marine Invasive Species from Maine to Rhode Island: July 25-31, 2010

Cambridge, MA, July 19, 2010 – An international team of 24 coastal and marine scientists will sample organisms from Freeport, Maine to Newport, Rhode Island, to assess the presence of non-native species in these coastal waters. The Rapid Assessment Survey, the fourth such survey since 2000, will take place July 25-31, starting in Rhode Island and moving north. The Massachusetts portion of the survey is a collaboration of MIT Sea Grant College, the Massachusetts Bays Programs’ National Estuary Program, and the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management. Dr. Judith Pederson is the lead on the program from MIT Sea Grant and has been a key coordinator of the project since its inception. Additional cosponsors of the project include the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, Rhode Island Bays, Rivers and Watersheds Coordinating Team, the Narragansett Bays Estuary Program, the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, and the Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel.

BACKGROUND
The introduction of non-native species into the marine environment can be detrimental to economic and ecological systems. Once marine invaders become established in the ecosystem, they quickly become established, and are almost impossible to eradicate. The Rapid Assessment Survey provides an opportunity to discover new marine invaders through a close inspection of flora and fauna by an expert taxonomic team. Environmental data will be collected at each location and all data entered into MIT Sea Grant’s Marine Invader Tracking Information System. The data will be synthesized and compared to past years and provided in a summary report for use by coastal managers.

Summary of Survey Goals
1. Conduct Rapid Assessment Surveys for native and non-native organisms on structures such as floating docks, pilings, and buoys
2. Compare species assemblages on artificial substrates with those found on natural habitats such as rocky shores and outcroppings.
3. Discern trends of non native species distribution and composition through time.
4. Record and report sightings of new marine invasive species.
5. Inform coastal management efforts.

Past Rapid Assessment Surveys
Previous Rapid Assessment Surveys have been conducted in the Northeast in 2000, 2003, and 2007. During these surveys, new species such as the invasive tunicate, Didemnum vexillum, and the non-native isopod, Synidotea laevidorsalis have been identified. In addition, the survey has led to the reclassification of species formerly assumed to be native. For example, several species of marine algae, formally thought to be native to our region, were correctly reclassified as non-native from information gathered by the Rapid Assessment Survey.

SCHEDULE
July 25: Rhode Island
Shooter’s Marina and Allen Harbor, Point Judith.

July 26: Rhode Island and Massachusetts
F.L. Tripp & Sons, Inc., Fort Adams State Park, King's Beach.

July 27: Massachusetts
Pope’s Island, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Sandwich Marina.

July 28: Massachusetts
Brewers Marina, Rowes Wharf.

July 29: New Hampshire
South Odiorne Point, Hampton State Pier/River Marina.

July 30: Massachusetts
Winter Island Salem, Hawthorne Cove Marina, Gloucester State Pier.

July 31: Maine
Dyer Cove, Port Harbor Marine, Brewer South Freeport.

ADDITIONAL CONTACTS
Judith Pederson, Advisory Leader and Regional Project Coordinator
MIT Sea Grant College Program
tel. 617-252-1741 email. jpederso@mit.edu

Adrienne Pappal, Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator
Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management
tel. 617-626-1218 email. adrienne.pappal@state.ma.us

Jan P. Smith, Habitat and Water Quality Manager
Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management
Tel. 617-626-1231 email. Jan.smith@state.ma.us

ABOUT MIT SEA GRANT
The mission of the MIT Sea Grant College Program is to employ innovative research, education and outreach strategies to responsibly use and sustain the vital marine resources of Massachusetts. The issues we address manifest locally but many are global in nature. Compelling challenges demand our attention as a solo entity and in partnership with other groups living and working on the coasts and at sea. MIT Sea Grant brings the substantial intellectual abilities of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and our sister universities to bear on ocean-related challenges requiring an extraordinary technical contribution. In meeting these challenges, we expand human understanding of the ocean and establish the infrastructure to sustain the initiatives and talent pool needed to address complex issues of critical and fragile marine resources.


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MIT Sea Grant College Program
Mail to: 77 Massachusetts Avenue, E38-300, Cambridge, MA 02139
To visit: 292 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02140
http://seagrant.mit.edu/

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Rapid Assessment Survey of Marine Invasive Species: July 25-31

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