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Rapid Assessment Surveys of Marine Invasive Species

Find details on these periodic scientific surveys of invasives along the New England coast.
scientist participating in RAS
Scientists at Rowes Wharf in Boston during the 2018 Rapid Assessment Survey.

Since 2000, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) has helped coordinate teams of scientific experts to periodically conduct a rapid assessment of marine species, including invasive animals and plants that have been introduced by human activity and have the capacity to harm the environment, economy, and public health.

The goal of the Rapid Assessment Survey is to monitor marine species, track trends in distribution, detect new marine invaders, and document regional patterns of established invaders. Every few years, a team of scientists visits marinas along the New England coast to observe, identify, and record marine organisms. Experts (including divers) spend an hour at each site examining as many surfaces under the water as possible, searching for both native and invasive marine species. Samples are collected and brought back to a laboratory for accurate identification. The surveys have identified new marine invaders, such as the European Rock Shrimp (Palaemon elegans). Range shifts have also been documented, including the northward expansion of the red algae Grateloupia turuturu.

The most recent survey was conducted in the summer of 2018 (July 23-27) and is the sixth survey since 2000. CZM staff and a team of scientific experts visited eight marinas from Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, to Casco Bay, Maine, to observe, identify, and record native and invasive marine species found on floating docks and piers. See Report on the 2018 Rapid Assessment Survey of Introduced, Cryptogenic, and Native Marine Species at New England Marinas: Massachusetts to Maine (PDF, 2 MB).

Additional Information

For additional information and available reports on the results of the Rapid Assessment Surveys, see:

Additional Resources

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