Story last updated at 3:27 p.m. Thursday, September 12, 2002

Scientist to give talk on invasive species
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

West Coast fisheries and marine biologists face an advancing nightmare as the European green crab, an invader first discovered in San Francisco Bay in the early 1990s, works its way north into the Pacific Northwest.

The species has no commercial value and poses a serious threat to native shellfish such as Dungeness crab in the nearshore environments it inhabits.

According to the Web site, biologists in Washington state have confirmed sightings of the green crab, which is thought to be responsible for destroying stocks of soft shell clams off the New England coast for more than a hundred years ago.

Is this invader a threat to Alaska fisheries?

In an effort to shed some light on this and other questions, Tuck Hines, a marine ecologist with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md., will present a talk on invasive species in marine ecosytems tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve, 2181 Kachemak Drive.

Hines, an investigator with the Invasions Biology Program, visited Homer to give a similar presentation in 2000.

Hines has overseen a number of research projects in Alaska, including the sampling of water looking for invasive species in Valdez, Kodiak, Dutch Harbor and Kachemak Bay.

With the barge and tanker traffic plying Alaska waters, the discharge of ballast water from those vessels is the prominent culprit in the spread of exotic species, Hines said.

"The rate of invasions is rapidly increasing," Hines said. "And that is mostly attributable to shipping, both from ballast water and hull fouling."

Sepp Jannotta can be reached at<,/i>