Have you been down to the coast recently?  Ok so the weather might not have been ideal for spending the day doing some UK based beachcombing, but if you head down to the shore today, you’re sure of a big surprise… alien invasion.

Who are the alien invaders??!

The Marine Conservation Society has joined up with the Marine Life Information Network (phew) who log sightings of alien species.  These are all those critters and fish that make it to the UK’s shores but are nonnaturally found in our territory.  Many are hitchhikers, caught in ship ballast tanks or stuck to hulls.  Others arrive on drift material, which includes the vast amounts of plastic in our oceans. Some were intentionally and discarded in the wild. Some examples are the grey squirrel or the American crayfish.

Why does the Alien invasion matter?

While many foreign species can live happily alongside our native ones, others are not so friendly and can endanger the locals.  Shellfish fisheries, for example, is one industry that really suffers.  And this is not just in our seas.  The Chinese mitten crab literally moves river beds, excavating as they go.  This massively disturbs the substrate and local ecosystem. As many as 65 different invaders have been identified as living on the seabed – they just take up space other individuals could be living in.

How can you help?

Download yourself a copy of the Aliens ID guide and next time you are out and about, keep your eyes peeled.  Report any alien sightings to the MCS. You can help a lot this way.