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Great Lakes Article:

Alien sea life a worry
CanWest News Service
Calgary Herald
04/12/04


The ships entering Vancouver Harbour were officially hauling cars and stereos, but below the waterline, they were also carrying tiny stowaways from Asia and the U.S.

In a comprehensive study on life forms sailing into Canada's western harbours, scientists have found that ballast tanks are teeming with life. Researchers studying the water in the tanks found dozens of different species of zooplankton and small sea animals. In some instances, there were thousands of creatures in every cubic metre of water taken on to stabilize the ships. Some were well known species of flatworms or clams. Others remain mysterious.

"We had no way of identifying what some of them were," says Colin Levings, the federal fisheries scientist who led the study, published this spring in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

More than 200 alien species are already believed to have taken up residence in Canadian waters, including the infamous zebra mussels that have disrupted the Great Lakes' ecosystem.

Others, such as the Japanese varnish clam that appeared on B.C. beaches a decade ago, appear to be relatively harmless.

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