What is an invasive species? An invasive species is any plant, animal or other organism that is not native to an ecosystem, but is currently found there.
Why are invasive species a concern? The greatest fear is that the new species are likely to cause environmental or economic harm to an existing ecosystem.
On the environmental side, this could mean the disruption of the food web, destruction of habitat, or the introduction of new diseases. From an economic perspective, this could mean the loss of jobs or livelihoods.
How do we manage invasive species? The primary goal is to prevent them from being introduced in the first place. However, once they are introduced to new ecosystems, the National Invasive Species Council recommends the following approaches:
- Early Detection and Rapid Response - try to halt and eradicate the invasion as quickly as possible
- Control and Management - try to slow and/or reduce their impacts
- Research - learn about their behavior and habits to help improve management techniques
Want to learn more?
Nab the Aquatic Invader! is a fun way to learn about aquatic invaders. By using this NOAA/Sea Grant website you can check out lots of unusual species that create real problems in the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf, and Great Lakes regions.
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The invasive species of greatest concern at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary are Orange Cup Coral (Tubastraea sp.) and Lionfish (Pterois volitans, Pterois miles).
Both of these invaders are originally from the Pacific Ocean, but have managed to find their way to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. The cup coral is believed to have arrived attached to ship hulls or in ship ballast water, while the lionfish are believed to be aquarium escapees.
Each invader has different impacts on the sanctuary, none of which appear to be positive. To learn more about each of these species, please click on the photos below...
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