|Picture courtesy: cruiseandmarritime.com|
Bioinvasion effected through the ballast water carried by ships sailing between continents, is an example. Well, what is this ballast water? Though it is a kind of water, it contains heavy environmental issues. Now just tune your mind a little bit to be a ship engineer. In order to keep its balance, ships use to fill seawater in large containers within them. At times the seawater is drained out for the same purpose. Hence there is frequent filling of seawater from one place and draining away of the same at a distant place. So what? Well, such large quantities of water measuring about 2,00,000 m3 , is a haven of innumerous ocean organisms. Thus the ballast water contains heterogenous biota including micro to macro organisms, many of which will be endemic or parasitic in nature. Definitely it is not the fault of those innocent creatures to travel and get deported in a strange shore. All this happens because of man’s commercial needs.
|Picture courtesy: portvision.com|
Don’t take this kind of a bioinvasion as something told only for people of faraway places. In fact, bioinvasion can have its effect anywhere in the world for seas connect continents and globalization has only multiplied ocean logistics and commerce. Even a landlocked country like Ethiopia or Switzerland cannot elude from cruise of bioinvasion for they also use nearby seaports for their imports and exports.
In recent times a number of alien species were identified along Kerala’s shores. These included varieties of seaweeds, bryozoans, mollusks and ascidian. Thecacera Pennigera is a mollusk which is endemic to shores of Atlantic, but today, a common organism for Indian shores. Studies have found enough evidence that the Atlantic mollusk was transported to Indian ocean by the ballast waters. Leave alone this petite mollusk, there are about ten thousand of organisms being distributed world over by way of ships.
Picture courtesy: seaslugforum.net
Kerala has two major seaports including the ‘Queen of Arabian Sea’, Kochi; and Vizhinjam International Sea Port off the capital city. Nor far away from Vizhinjam, Kulachal in Tamil Nadu is also earmarked for a port construction. That means 3 major ports within some 300 kms, which will find the issue of ballast water posing severe challenge to our biodiversity conservation efforts.