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Ballast water gets a bath: SERC scientists test ways to remove invasive species from ships

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Summer is officially here. That means SERC’s marine invasions research lab is back aboard the Cape Washington, a ship moored in Baltimore Harbor. The bowels of ships contain enormous ballast tanks that are filled with water to help balance cargo. This water can contain many living organisms and is one of the primary ways aquatic species are moved to new habitats around the globe. Once they become established in an area, non-native species have the potential to cause ecological and economic damage.

It’s important to figure out how to properly treat—and clean—ballast water, before it gets discharged. That is why Smithsonian researchers are on the Cape Washington. They are part of a team of scientists testing different ballast water treatment systems. Smithsonianscience.org stepped aboard the Cape Washington with SERC biologist George Smith to find out more the work.