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Author Topic: What are the risks of spreading organisms in ballast tanks?  (Read 2060 times)

@ironmunya

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@ironmunya asked the Naked Scientists:
   How can the spread of microorganisms by ballast tanks of ships be stopped, and what are the risks posed. Cheers. :-)
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 07/02/2011 04:30:02 by _system »


 

Offline Dasyatis

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What are the risks of spreading organisms in ballast tanks?
« Reply #1 on: 28/02/2011 20:39:30 »
Great question! I don't know how it can be stopped unless ships take in and evacuate ballast water in sterile conditions, which is pretty much impossible for a vessel of any size, really. The ships could possibly be equipped with reverse osmosis filters for their ballast intake, but the power needed to perform the filtration is probably not cost effective. Maybe we could go back to the old days and just throw big rocks into the ballast tanks  :D

The risks, however, we do know. Luckily it's not as bad as it could be, as transporting organims from one place to another usually results in the death of those organisms simply due to the less-than-habitable conditions they're in during transport, coupled with the biological "shock" of being suddenly dumped into a new environment. The most notable problem is the introduction of exotic invasives. Invasive species that withstand the shock and awe of it all may have increased abilities to outcompete native species, usually due to low predation rates on these invasives. We've already learned this lesson the hard way with the zebra mussels up in the great lakes. 
 

Offline Geezer

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What are the risks of spreading organisms in ballast tanks?
« Reply #2 on: 28/02/2011 23:31:14 »
They could continually replace the water during the voyage so that the water was not being transported for any great distance.
 

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What are the risks of spreading organisms in ballast tanks?
« Reply #2 on: 28/02/2011 23:31:14 »

 

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