Boats kill off important part of aquatic food chain

Copepod Zooplankton

A copepod, part of the food chain

Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science found twice as many copepod carcasses within motor boat wakes in comparison to the number found outside of wakes, and there were seven times the carcasses found within a busy boat channel. Copepods, tiny crustaceans, are part of the zooplankton that form the base of the marine food chain for larger fish. The BBC’s Earth Channel has reported that a third of these zooplankton are killed in waters frequented by propeller-driven boats. A discussion of these reports, reported by Treehugger, summarized: “According to the researchers, high copepod mortality levels could have a significant impact on local ecosystems, leaving small fish without enough to eat, encouraging ecologically dangerous phytoplankton blooms and contributing to bacterial growth in bodies of water.”

Categories: Ocean Voyaging