Friday, October 13, 2006

In the News: Hungry Critters Attack NYC Ships, Piers

Shipworms and gribbles may sound like good costumes for Halloween, but in reality they are a serious threat to vessels, piers and other waterborne structures. As it turns out, the waters of our estuary have become clean enough to support almost ALL of the species that inhabited the region on the 19th century, some of which aren't as welcomed as others. JB

October 09, 2006
By Samanth Gross, Associated Press

NEW YORK — The city's waterfront is getting cleaner, and bothersome river critters not seen in hundreds of years are once again attacking wooden ships and piers.

The waters were once so filthy that early 20th-century sailors could be sure their boats would be safe from such threats because organisms simply couldn't survive in the muck. But scientists are now seeing a resurgence in gribbles, shrimp-like crustaceans that grow to about one-17th of an inch in length and attack wood from the outside, and shipworms, which latch onto the outside of wood and burrow inward, growing up to several feet long as they devour the material.

"As the river gets cleaner, it's easier for things to live in it," Chris Martin of the Hudson River Park Trust said of the return of the tiny mollusks and crustaceans. "We don't make the piers out of wood anymore because of them."

Read more:

Shipworms on Wikipedia

Picture A: Shipworm
Picture B : Gribble

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