Mediterranean at risk: ‘alien species’ will arrive from Suez Canal

Screenshot 2015-07-23 at 5:55:32 p.m.
Only a few days left (the target date is August 6) and the widening of the Suez Canal will be a reality. A definite advantage for businesses, but also a work that has alarmed the international scientific community since its announcement last summer.
“The enlargement of the Suez Canal brings ‘alien’ species to the Mediterranean that can ruin the ecosystem,” said Anna Occhipinti Ambrogi and Agnese Marchini of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Pavia (Source la Provincia Pavese).

The real danger is that of invasion by alien species from the Red Sea.

From left, Anna Occhipinti and Agnese Marchini. (Source Provincia Pavese)
From left, Anna Occhipinti and Agnese Marchini. (Source Pavese Province)

But theirs is not an isolated voice: the international scientific community of marine biologists had been reacting since last year, alerting to the possible effects of this construction on the marine environment throughout the Mediterranean, and not only of the Italian coast, of course. Despite the concern being picked up by the international press (even the New York Times), Egypt continued excavation work in record time, making no provision for mitigation to make the work sustainable.

The real danger is that of invasion by alien species from the Red Sea. By “alien” we mean species that do not fit into a given ecosystem and may, indeed, disrupt it. An example of harmful species that entered from Suez and quickly spread through the Mediterranean to the Italian coast is the “silver puffer fish,” which contains a toxin 100 times more potent than cyanide that can be lethal to humans.

As many as 450 alien species were recorded in research conducted at the University of Pavia. What should have been done during the work? The solution would have been to contain the flow of species by making saltwater pools to recreate the barriers that were there before.



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