On any given day, the world’s fleet of ships are carrying billions of tons of ballast water with up to 7,000 different invasive species as stowaways. About one in every ten of these is likely to be a problem if it’s introduced into a new ecosystem, which is why the United Nations has listed “invasive species” discharged from ballast water as one of the top four threats to marine ecosystems globally. In the Mediterranean Sea, for instance, a new species has been recorded every four weeks. More than 400 introduced species now make their home in a Sea that has (or had) one of the highest percentages of endemic species in the world.
But this sad story now has a proposed technological, fairytale ending. According to the BBC, a team of researchers has showed that installing continuous microwave systems onboard cargo ships could heat up and kill all marine life within the water tanks. Read more about that idea here.
On the other hand, we could simply require that boats dump their ballast water in the open ocean rather than in sensitive bays and estuaries (a solution that has been proposed for years). But that’s just not nearly as fun as nuking ‘em, is it?