Regional & Historical Analyses
Chesapeake Bay Shipping Analysis
Europeans first visited the Chesapeake Bay some 400 years. Since then, shipping to and from the Chesapeake Bay has become an important route of commerce. Ships are believed responsible for many of the non-native species introductions to Chesapeake Bay, both from ballast (solid and water) and from hull fouling. It is often stated that ships are now bigger, faster, and more numerous than in previous centuries, however data are mostly lacking, especially with respect to the number of vessels transiting the world’s oceans. NBIC has undertaken an analysis that examines historical and modern shipping to the Bay. We are particularly interested in understanding how shipping may have changed over the past 200 years, with respect to such factors as number of ships, ship type, and shipping routes. By taking a historical approach, we hope to determine whether historical invasion rates can be meaningfully correlated to changes in shipping to the Chesapeake Bay, perhaps in response to significant shifts in world trade patterns.
Panama Canal Shipping Analysis
Manmade canals represent important pathways for non-native species introductions. The Panama Canal provides the opportunity for biota of the Pacific and Atlantic basins to mix. While it is likely that the freshwater taken from surrounding lakes and used to move ships through the canal system behaves as a physiological barrier for many organisms moving passively from one side of the Panamanian isthmus to the other, this may not be the case for biota inside ballast tanks, or possibly on the hulls of ships. Due to the greatly reduced inter-ocean transit time, onboard mortality may be significantly lowered and result in higher invasion rates. NBIC is currently collecting and analyzing historical and contemporary data on Panama Canal shipping to determine whether changes to invasion rates can be correlated with this pathway.