As globalization continues, along with importing products from overseas, animals and plants are finding their way into the United States’ oceans and are setting up homes. A group of University of Massachusetts Boston students, led by PhD candidate Martine Wagstaff, have been studying these new critters and their impact on the waters off of Boston. Next
The students have been conducting an experiment from the Dorchester Yacht Club’s docks, hoping to better understand what allows these animals to thrive outside of their natural habitat. Next
“We really wanted to study these species so we can better understand what’s happening,” said Wagstaff. “The docks [off the yacht club] are easy to access and a great starting point for the experiment.” Next
Using wooden planks, the students since May, have been periodically checking their experiment to see what has moved in.
“We want to better understand what the natural processes are that govern theses animals coexistence,” said Wagstaff. “People have only started surveying these animals, but they’re taking up space, which means the native species might not have room.” Next
The usual oysters, worms, crabs and algae, have been setting up shop on the planks, but Tunicate or Sea Squirts, a non-native species, have also been showing up.
“With the increase in transit we are only going to see more, so we have to understand how the animals work,” said Wagstaff. “We need to know why it happens before we can combat it.” Next
While the students are just observing the animals, the yacht club has been a great classroom for the students, allowing them quick access to their experiments.
“The yacht club has been so helpful especially since space has been a big factor,” said Wagstaff, whose experiment takes up a good portion of the dock. “But the partnership is good for the students and hopefully it helps the next generation create links to the community.”
Left: A Tunicate or Sea Squirt. Back to the beginning
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