Alien Marine Biota of Europe

  • Bella S. Galil
  • Stephan Gollasch
  • Dan Minchin
  • Sergej Olenin
Part of the Invading Nature - Springer Series in Invasion Ecology book series (INNA, volume 3)

The recognition that marine species in European coastal waters originate from other parts of the world has lagged, in some cases centuries, behind their postulated arrival. The NW Atlantic soft shell clam Mya arenaria is considered one of the earliest introductions: it was proposed that it had been brought in the 16th century intentionally as bait or food, unintentionally with in solid ships' ballast, with oysters (Hessland 1946). But it may have been brought earlier still: a find of Mya shells from the Kattegat, Denmark that was dated to 1245–1295 excited a debate on possible transport in Vikings' vessels (Petersen et al. 1992). Vikings aside, the history of marine biological invasions most likely began with the development of “global” maritime trade routes in the 16th century. Some of the first observations of vessel-transported alien species date back to the 17th and 18th century: live specimens of Balanus tintinnabulum were described and illustrated from a vessel coming from West Africa and wrecked off the Dutch coast in 1764 (Holthuis and Heerebout 1972). The first record of the east Pacific Megabalanus coccopoma in European waters dates to 1851, from a vessel in Le Havre, France (Kerckhof and Cattrijsse 2001). Indeed, Darwin (1854) himself suggested that barnacles had been transported as foulants on ship hulls, and he was the first to record the Indo West-Pacific Balanus amphitrite from the Mediterranean and the Portuguese coast. But it was the excitement attending the excavation of the Suez Canal that focused attention on possible mass incursion of alien marine biota from one sea to another. On the eve of the opening of the Canal Vaillant (1865: 97) argued that the cutting through the Isthmus of Suez offered an opportunity to examine the immigration of species and the mix of faunas from both seas. Indeed, within 20 years two Red Sea molluscs, the Gulf pearl oyster Pinctada radiata and Cerithium scabridum, were collected in Alexandria and Port Said (Monterosato 1878; Keller 1883).


Alien Species Ballast Water Suez Canal Curonian Lagoon Native Species Richness 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bella S. Galil
    • 1
  • Stephan Gollasch
    • 2
  • Dan Minchin
    • 3
  • Sergej Olenin
    • 4
  1. 1.National Institute of OceanographyHaifaIsrael
  2. 2.GoConsult, Grosse Brunnenstr. 61HamburgGermany
  3. 3.Marine Organism Investigations, 3, Marina VillageBallina KillaloeIreland
  4. 4.Coastal Research and Planning InstituteKlaipeda UniversityKlaipedaLithuania

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