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).
For additional information and available reports on the results of the Rapid Assessment Surveys, see:
- Flickr Photo Album of the 2018 Rapid Assessment Survey - This album includes photographs taken by CZM staff and EPA divers during the 2018 Rapid Assessment Survey.
- Report on the 2013 Rapid Assessment Survey of Marine Species at New England Bays and Harbors (PDF, 55 MB) - This report published by CZM in 2014 summarizes the results of the 2013 Rapid Assessment Survey at 18 sites from Rhode Island to Maine.
- Report on the 2010 Rapid Assessment Survey of Marine Species at New England Floating Docks and Rocky Shores (PDF, 10 MB) - This report published by CZM in 2013 summarizes the results of the 2010 Rapid Assessment Survey at 20 sites from Rhode Island to Maine.
- Marine Invaders of the Northeast (PDF, 2 MB) - This 2003 report published by the MIT Sea Grant College Program summarizes the results of the 2003 Rapid Assessment Survey at 20 sites from New York to Maine.
- There Goes the Neighborhood: The 2003 Northeast Invasive Species Survey - This article on page 56 of the Winter 2004/2005 Coastlines discusses the August 2003 rapid assessment survey of invasive marine species conducted along the New England coastline.