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Ways to Protect the Environment

Sustainable Fishing
Exploring Pollution Solutions
Protecting Habitats
Understanding Global Climate Change
 Protecting Habitats

Overview | Coastal Development | Introduced Species | What is Being Done?

Introduced Species

photo of a ship releasing ballast water

What are introduced species and how do they affect marine habitats?

An introduced species, also called "invasive species" or "non-native species", is an organism that is not naturally part of an ecosystem but which was brought into an area. Humans are often responsible for transporting species from one place to another, without being aware of it. Species can also be carried from place to place by other organisms, such as birds that migrate far distances. They can cause major changes in the habitat of marine organisms.

Humans transport introduced species when ships travel from one part of the ocean to another. In order to keep ships balanced and floating, they take in and release ballast water as needed. Ballast water can carry organisms that were not intended to be moved. This unforeseen result of ocean transportation is responsible for many species moving across the ocean and disrupting habitats. Introduced species do not have any natural predators in their new environments and often thrive, competing with species that live there naturally. Such changes cause disturbance throughout food webs, affecting many habitats and entire ecosystems.

Ships are also responsible for transporting rodents, insects, and other unwanted hitchhikers. Rats, for example, are a serious problem in Alaska. They escape from ships traveling from various foreign ports.

Research Links Related to Protecting Habitats:

 Species Affected by Protecting
  Harp Seal
Polar Bear
Common Dolphin
Leatherback Turtle
Loggerhead Turtle
Green Sea Turtle
Black-footed Albatross
Pink-footed Shearwater
Southern Elephant Seal
Greater Shearwater
Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle
Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
Harbor Seal
Hawksbill Turtle

 Activities Related to Protecting
  Predators Among Us
147 KB, pdf
This lesson will focus on human beings as predators, specifically in coral reef ecosystems.

 Other Resources Related to Protecting
  Deep Sea Coral
280 KB, mpeg,
There is coral at the bottoms of oceans all over the world, often over a mile deep.

Saving Crop Diversity
1434 KB, mpeg, audio clip
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault will store a backup collection of the worlds seeds to save crop diversity.

Saving the Earth's 'last dinosaurs'
360 KB, mpeg, audio clip
Leatherback turtles are not actually dinosaurs, but they are ancient and amazing animals.

Sea Turtles Dig the Dark
2940 KB, mpeg, video
Public Service Announcement put out by the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect sea turtle nesting habitats.

 Sponsored by:
NASA logoNational Aeronautics and
Space Administration

(NASA Award NCC5433)
NOAA logoNational Oceanic &
Atmospheric Administration

(NOAA Award NA06SEC4690006)

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