October 23, 2020 Update: No invasive species detected in Hoonah harbor.
The HIA Environmental Program works with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center to monitor the harbor for marine invasive species. These invasive species can be very damaging both to boats and infrastructure as well as marine environments that support commercial fisheries and local lifestyles. We are looking for species already recorded in Alaska, including Botryllus schlosseri, Botrylloides violaceous, and Didemnum vexillum, and several species that have not yet been recorded in Alaska including Styela clava, Ciona intestinalis, and Ciona savignyi (tunicates), Watersipora subtorquata (bryozoan), Carcinus maenas (green crab), and Undaria pinnatifida (Asian kelp).
Coastal Program Manager Sean Williams worked with the HIA Training Rural Alaskan Youth Leaders and Students (TRAYLS) interns Ted Elliot, Dylan Johnson, and Gabriella Comolli and Youth Program Coordinator Arianna Lapke to deploy 10 monitoring plates in June 2020. In October, Sean worked with the Resilient Alaskan Youth Americorps member Rebekah Sawers, and Hoonah City Schools students to pull the plates and discuss changing marine environments caused by human actions and climate change.
Alaska has thousands of miles of coastline and very few marine invasive species. Species targeted for monitoring include 8 marine invasive species in California with the potential for significant impacts in Alaska. The Invasive Tunicate Network utilizes settlement plates to collect target species. Clean PVC plates are deployed from piers and floating docks 1-4 times/year, for 3 – 9 months, retrieved, photographed and specimens of interest are collected and preserved for confirmation by expert taxonomists. At each deployment date, participants also measure water temperature, salinity and turbidity and take notes on nearby land and water activities. To better understand how invasive species in Alaska are related to their counterparts in other parts of the world and the transport mechanisms that bring them to Alaska, samples of selected invasive species are also being collected for genetic analyses.
For each volunteer, the Invasive Tunicate Network provides an opportunity to learn about collecting scientific data, and the marine invertebrates living in the sea nearby. The network trains volunteers to become stewards of Alaska’s coastal habitats.
Please subscribe to the HIA Environmental facebook page for further updates. We are waiting on results to see if any marine invasive species are present in the harbor.