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Invasive worm species found on boats

Friday, 13 October 2023

Tubeworms attached to bottom of boatAn invasive non-native (INNS) worm species has been discovered on two boats in Ramsey after they were removed from the water for cleaning and maintenance.

The boat-crane operator alerted the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) last week after noticing an unusual growth on the boats’ hulls and propellers.

Both had been recently transported from Peel Marina to Ramsey for winter storage.

DEFA’s marine scientists took samples and subsequent investigations, including consultation with external experts, revealed the species is the Australian or trumpet tubeworm (Ficopomatus enigmaticus).

The southern hemisphere species is a fast-growing, colonising tubeworm that can cause problems for boaters by attaching itself to man-made surfaces by developing thick layers of calcareous tubes. They can also pose a risk to the environment and biodiversity in particular areas, and may be difficult to eradicate and control.

Dr Michelle Haywood MHK, Political Member for the Environment, said:

‘Invasive species like this can be spread from place to place attached to boat hulls, marine equipment and in bilge water, so owners should always take time to check and clean their vessels during annual maintenance, especially after travelling to new places, or known high risk areas.’

‘Globally invasive animals and plant species are one of the biggest threats to our biodiversity, and can result in significant costs to remove them, especially from harbours and marinas.’

Due to the potential impact on ports and marinas, DEFA is working closely with the Department of Infrastructure’s Harbours team to develop a coordinated response.

Harbour keepers will be undertaking information gathering and monitoring vessel movement and maintenance works in their respective areas, and an information pack will be made available shortly to vessel and harbour users.

DEFA will continue to respond to requests to help identify unusual or potentially invasive species, but relies on reporting from the public and the DoI. Reports of potential invasive species should be emailed to with good quality pictures if possible.

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