Coming up next on Jonathan Bird’s Blue World,
a look alien invaders from other parts of the world. Hi, I’m Jonathan Bird and welcome to my world! An ecosystem is a community of organisms living
together in balance with each other. In theory, a balanced ecosystem will stay balanced and
healthy as long as nothing disrupts the harmony of the inter-relationships between all the
organisms. Many things can throw the balance of an ecosystem
out of whack. For example, overfishing can remove certain animals from a reef ecosystem,
creating a gap in the food chain that causes the whole ecosystem to suffer. But another, increasingly common, disruption
of ecosystems comes in the form of invasive species. An invasive species is an organism
that has been introduced into a ecosystem from somewhere else, often causing a change
in the balance of that ecosystem. Perhaps one of the most well-known invasive
species in North America is the Zebra mussel. This harmless-looking mollusk lives in fresh
water. They call them Zebra Mussels because of the
Zebra-like pattern on the shell. The Zebra Mussel has invaded the Great Lakes,
St. Lawrence River, and numerous smaller lakes and ponds around the United States and Canada. It was brought from Europe as larvae in the
ballast water of ships. When a cargo ship travels with a proper load,
it settles down into the water to the depth for which it was designed. But sometimes on
the return journey, there isn’t enough cargo and the ship floats too high in the water,
which isn’t safe. So the ship has tanks called ballast tanks, which are filled with water
to weigh the ship down. When the ship arrives at its destination, the ballast tanks are
emptied. Sometimes the water carries tiny planktonic invaders from another country,
which are inadvertently released into the environment. Since cargo ships go up and down the St. Lawrence
on their way from all over the world to the Great lakes, ballast tanks are a big issue. The zebra mussel was first detected in the
Great Lakes in 1988. Because it reproduces so quickly, within only a few years, everything
in the Great Lakes was soon covered in a layer of zebra mussels. While the zebra mussel might not seem like
much of a threat, they grow so densely that they clog the water intakes of hydro-electric
power facilities, the hulls of boats and ships, docks and buoys. It’s estimated that the annual
cost to control them in the Great Lakes exceeds 100 million dollars a year! Having never seen a zebra mussel, I head up
to Clayton New York, to visit the beautiful “thousand island” region of the St. Lawrence
river. I join David Doubilet, the famous National
Geographic photographer on a shore dive in the river to check out the mussels. David
lives nearby, and this is practically his back yard. We’re diving an old wooden-hulled shipwreck
called the Islander right near shore. As soon as I sink beneath the waves, I see zebra mussels
attached to the wreck and the rocks on the bottom. Zebra mussels haven’t been all bad, at least
from a diving point of view. Because they eat by filtering plankton from the water,
Zebra mussels have massively improved the underwater visibility in the river and the
Great lakes by removing so much of the plankton that clouds the water. As I examine the bottom of the river, I start
to notice that the rocks are moving. Wait a minute! Those aren’t rocks…they’re fish.
And they’re not just any fish, they are round Gobies, another invasive species! Round Gobies also came to the St. Lawrence
from Europe…in ballast water! Round Gobies are so good at eating and reproducing that
their population has exploded in the St. Lawrence. These little bottom-dwelling fish are everywhere
you look. Why have they done so well here? Guess what they love to eat? You guessed it…Zebra Mussels. But it’s not
all good news. The Round Goby also eats the same crustaceans, worms and and insect larvae
that are food for native species like sculpin, so they are out-competing the local fish for
resources. On the flip side, it turns out that larger
fish like Bass, Walleye, Salmon, and trout all love to chow down on Round Gobies. The
result? The influx of Round Gobies has fueled a come-back in several depleted species of
larger fish! 1500 miles away, in the Caribbean, another
invasive species is making waves. The Lionfish is a beautiful but deadly invader. This venomous fish has spines that act like
syringes, filled with a deadly toxin. Because of the excellent protection afforded by the
spines, very few animals can actually eat a fully-grown Lionfish. A fish native to the Indo-Pacific, the Lionfish
was thought to have been introduced to the Caribbean in the 1980s by people releasing
lionfish from the aquarium trade. Thirty years later, there are literally millions of Lionfish
in the Caribbean and the population seems to be growing unabated. Lionfish are voracious predators. A single
individual can eat dozens of fish a day. And that’s the problem…people are concerned
that they are eating up all the other small fish in the Caribbean and no predators exist
to control their population. Another opinion, however, suggests that the
fish have only been able to take over so easily because they are occupying a niche in the
food chain that was vacant due to overhunting of other species like grouper. These critics
argue that nature will eventually control the Lionfish population itself, through prey
availability. To learn more, I head on down to St. Thomas
in the U.S. Virgin Islands. At the Coki Beach Dive shop I hook up with
local dive Guru Peter Jackson. We head down to his boat and load our gear. We push off the dock and head out to the dive
site. This is no ordinary dive though. We’re meeting up with a group of divers from the
CORE Foundation, an organization that is attempting to contain the Lionfish explosion in the waters
of the U.S. Virgin Islands. I gear up to join the CORE Foundation on a
dive. Underwater, I follow divers Kitty Edwards,
John Rubattino and Jason Quetel as they scour the reef, looking for Lionfish. As it turns out, Lionfish are not hard to
find. In fact, they are just about everywhere. Jason takes aim with his speargun and snags
a Lionfish. Carefully, it is placed into a tube. The spines
are still quite dangerous even after the fish has been speared. Just about everywhere I look, there are more
Lionfish. The CORE team misses a few, but they manage
to bag more than a dozen Lionfish on a single dive. Unfortunately, this doesn’t even put
a dent in the population of Lionfish at that one dive site. Following the CORE team has
shown me just how invasive these fish are. I really don’t think there is any stopping
them in the Caribbean at this point. Back on shore, they measure and pack up the
fish. They are going off to a researcher who will analyze the stomach contents to see what
they are eating. As international shipping and transportation
increases all around the world, plants and animals are able to hitch rides and travel
to places they never existed in the past. These invasive species affect change in the
ecosystems they invade. It’s not always harmful to the environment, but one thing
has become obvious—invasive species are extremely hard to remove once they have been
introduced, and may in fact become a permanent addition to a local ecosystem, like it or
not. So when it comes to invasive species, it seems
that the best and perhaps only solution is to prevent the invasion in the first place.

100 thoughts on “Invasive Species | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

  1. Hi Jonathan: Great video. I have taken up the cause to help eliminate Lion Fish and dove in Aruba, Bonaire, and Panama so far this year killing Lion Fish. I was in Cuba a few years ago and they are all over the reefs there. Unfortunately for me I got spiked in Panama when I was trying to put a fish into a Zoo Keeper and had my hand in the wrong place holding the container down for someone else. Boy that was a painful experience and it lasted for a long time.

    Anyway, next month I will be in Sarasota diving with the Zoo Keeper dive team in a tournament, helping to further eliminate Lion Fish. I know it does not do much, but it helps keep the population down somewhat and people are really enjoying eating Lion Fish now.

    Thanks again for your educational video and hope to meet you one day. I have 84 certifications in scuba from Padi, Naui, TDI, and SDI and love to dive. Actually I fish a lot out of NJ and yesterday caught 10 Mahi Mahi, which is unusual for NJ. I have lots of my videos posted. If you ever get time check some of them out.

    Keep up the great work! It is nice to hear information on the internet that is factual. Many people do not research what they are speaking about well. You did a great job!


    Roger J. Muller, Jr. AI

  2. I have read somewhere that a group of marine biologists is trying to make reef sharks aquire a taste for lion fish in order to permanently control their numbers

  3. they should use a deeper spear gun so they could aim and hit the lionfish directly through the brain so they wont feel so much pain when theyre hunted

  4. Thank you for uploading these video's i might never be able to dive because of my ears…but you just make me very happy by showing these videos thank you so much..!

  5. Always worth a watch and, once again, thanks for posting!

    Here, in Pittsburgh, Pa, our industrial and civic drinking water uptakes are also damaged and clogged by Zebra and Quagga mussels.  As the river level fluctuates whole islands of stranded alien invaders periodically appear, some with shells five or six inches in length.  Since the aggregate mass of the mussels (which also colonize existing, endemic species) exceeds that of all other macrofauna in the busy river (Pgh is one of the US's largest inland ports in terms of tonnage moved) the question might be asked: how can man (also an invasive species and probably the most successful) make use of this potential resource of calcium and protein?

    While I don't recommend you come dive here, other than to popularize the sport fishing (we catch record muskellunge in the deep pools below the dams), I will transmit one of our local legends: it's rumored that man–size walleye and monster catfish lurk in the murk along the bottom of both navigable channels and dam pools.  You should hear some of the fish stories told by professional divers who've worked the wharves and intakes!  These guys would have us believe that Jaws size sturgeon and record river cats prowl, unseen, our fabled rivers.  Naturally, we take these stories with a super large grain of salt, but they're always interesting enough to keep those aforementioned divers in free shots and beers after long days of squinting through the cloudy waters, plying their various aquatic trades.

  6. Invasive species can be a problem in some areas (such as the sea lamprey in the Great Lakes) but nature will always find a way to balance itself, one way or another. It just takes time and certainly won't happen overnight.

  7. that's another really useful video! It would be goot to learn more about those and other invasive species.

  8. Hi johnathan I'm from St Lucia I'm am ten years old and I love your videos st Lucia was going through the same problem with the lion fish so we got into the habit of eating lion fish the fisherman were trained on how to clean that fish

  9. Hey human have always been the perfect animal who drive species extinct. So why not just turn these invasive animal into a delicious meal.

  10. I'm a high school biology teacher – thank you for giving such a clear explanation of invasive species by speaking slowly and using animations and engaging examples to illustrate the concept.  I will be using this with my students!

  11. While growing up, I have always been told that lion fish are endangered but I always doubt it because of the fact that they can't really be eaten by predators. Like who would dare eat a venomous fish? This video changes my perspective. They really are large in number!

  12. we don't have snakeheads in where I live Alaska (yet) but several lakes and ponds have been completely overrun by northern pike and they aren't any better

  13. great video! i'm holding a presentation in school on invasive species in school and might include this video to make it more interesting 🙂

  14. quick question, how did you get started in all of this? i plan on minoring in marine biology so i was just wondering cuz all of this looks like lots of fun

  15. All so very and sadly true Johnathan. Another horrible and invasive species in the great lakes is the sea Lamprey eel (yuch!)- the nasty saw toothed vampiric critters you saw on whale sharks in the Yucatan, are so adaptable, that they can live in fresh water.! So far – (I think and hope) we are invasive free up here in the Pacific Northwest. I understand that Florida has a terrible Lionfish infestation now too :-(. I don't know if its possible but invasive species eggs could possibly hitch a ride on improperly cleaned dive gear? My gear always goes in the bathtub for a final fresh water cleaning after a dive in Puget Sound, but it does make one wonder- hmmm. BTW, your channel is what the internet SHOULD be! See you on the bottom!

  16. You said the zebra mussel's feeding was good for divers, but it is removing algae that is a source of oxygen for the fresh water fish so the mussels are suffocating everything in the lake. That's why I don't think they are very good for the ecosystems.

  17. Hi what an amazing video! What an amazing job you did on the editing!!
    Been enjoying these vids keep it up!
    Would you mind checking out my latest Egypt video plz!;) and see what your thoughts are on it. I'm 13 years old and plan on doing a lot more diving and would love some support with my photography! Please share the video if you can to help get people to notice the work I'm putting into photography!! Thanks keep up these brilliant vids!;)

  18. Why did u have to kill them it's all part of nature there living things just like us.
    I love ur channell I watch all your vids but lion fish are so beautiful and amazing.

  19. I agree. There should be a cruzade with industrial methods of suction the lion fish by divers with large hoses into net cages and after send them to the shore to be recycled as animal food or manure.

  20. I caught a rainbow trout off the North Shore of Lake Huron, that had thirteen gobies in it"s stomach. Those little critters are like cockroaches. Very concerning.

  21. Johnathan, I did see that they are having some success in getting sharks (and eels) to chow down on Lionfish. The sharks seem immune to the protein based venom. Although… I would imagine that eating a Lionfish would be somewhat akin to chowing down on a porcupine! I'm planning a dive down in the Caribbean next year to help cull their nasty invasive alien numbers! (A tad different than our diving up here in the Pacific Northwest! ) Happy diving! and for the Lionfish? Eat'm to beat'm!!

  22. Thank you Jonathan B…love your way off teaching and also how you dive…how careful you are..and how you enjoy every always look and act….cant wait to get in there to see whats happening down there in the ocean…every dive I take with you I learn so much new amazing things…I am privalige to say Im living on West coast in Africa…hope to see you around here someday

  23. Hi…I live in George,Wilderness..SA now…have lived in Cape Town…area most my young life..but grew up inland from George..150km inland..small farmland called Louterwater..always missed the ocean terribly..maybe not even on a map those years..Louterwater…beautiful place in its own..I was free there..horses… to all off them..all my life…my dad worked as manager and engineer at Lanco..Fruit factory..import/ export…company…but also ran small farm…I love animals so much…it hurts deep inside my heart…when Im doing nursing…because people are strange to me…they don't listen at all…even  when you help them…they never listen…all animals is my father was crayfish diver and engineer..but we went to the ocean lots..I love money yet for scuba courses..but I know it will happen…. I could not stay so far from the ocean and as my parents moved to Cpt area..I moved even closer and lived around the sea in capetown every where…so always ended small flat..or my van..or rented..and work..always no less than 5min from the ocean…did everything I can to just hear it when I go to sleep..dream of dolphins and whales every that I watch your much more dreaming… left my parents house at 17…couldn't go study Marine biology…financially disabled…hahah….studied nursing..have degree..but the ocean called me back…and after 17yr..I gave it all up..came back to where I grew up..because here where I live the most dolphins and whales..and the famous knysna sea horse…and all sort off fish..and everything in your shows is here and up the coast to Sodwana…in my back yard…im living on the last piece of wild coast available..and it is declared Nature reserve..I am very busy with..plastic pollution at this stage..pollution behind in thinking..and recycling is slow process..but our beaches is very very clean..we all look after it…I want to get involve in teaching kids about the ocean..we as Family give surf lessons…and my Son just went up to Sodwana to finish his Master diving..hopefully when You guys come film and dive this side..youll use Kito my son as your Master diver and tourguide..around here and up to Sodwana..he is a amazing Guy…And maybe I can just be the Nurse on the boat..and snorkel dream is sort off what you doing more now..than being a marine biologist..I just want to be in there all the time….you make more difference by going around and love all and 'be free' attitude and not hurting or causing any harm…and your knowledge is great..amazing…inspiring…This side the ocean is warmer…than Cpt..going up the tropics here towards Durban… warm water..yeh!!..You get Sodwana bay..up from Durban…that is one off the best diving spots…with all you see your side…its all there from…whale sharks,tiger sharks…zambezi sharks…the famous Coelacanths(that something already to jump on a plain to SA for) is there..famous there for this..deep dive to see them….turtles there is lots off them also..all the Rays is eagal spotted ribbon tail ray, coral reefs and all..moray eels..everything is there..octopus..lots..I love them lots..fishermen kill so many off them..shame…dolphins..whales..the humpback passing there now towards our coast..and moving to Hermanus west breed…I think…not sure..but this time off the year..humpback whales close to shore here for protection and play…this is my life..and life is the ocean for all land animals to my birds every day….elephants is my guides as land mammels…example to never give up…and protect my family attitude like a Cow…..haha…have huge veggie garden here to feed all welcome when you ever come past….google Da Blue Juice..Masterdiver Digger is the Man there…(my son Kito there at Coral Divers now busy with his courses..20yr old now..lives in the also good Surfer.).Then you cant miss our nature reserve coastline down at Wilderness,sedgefield,knysna,plettenbergbay…up to Tsitsikamma park South Africa our wild wild coast…with amazing sealife and diving and snorkeling…all along this coast…we all very active in the ocean…sending love and blessings on your journey…see you guys soon…love Nicola (aka Nurse nix)

  24. Anything that looks beautiful in the nature has some dangerous secretive weapons for hunting and self defense,is so interesting. Jonathan Bird I believe that you must've explored almost all oceans, rivers and lakes in the world isn't it?

  25. I'm not sorry to say that removing invasive creatures from the system isn't going to balance the ecosystem because everytime humans interfere with the ecosystem of the nature they do more harm than good. I think you should leave it and it'll balance out all by itself. It may take time by our standards as humans because we're only a speck of dust in the history of the universe.

  26. I ran into a bunch of lionfish in Greece while snorkeling last September. There were 6 of them hunting in a cluster.

  27. We need a follow up people are eating the lion fish in increasing numbers ,I wonder if they have made an impact

  28. Here… All these animals and fishes are not invasive… But the humans are invasive…. We invaded every continent and wiped out almost of Eco systems. made so many species to extinction and many more are endangered and about to extinct.
    Even we are invasive species in untouched Antarctica.

  29. now the one of the worst invasive species in the seas are the crown of thorn starfish that's eating the reef system in some parts of the Philippines

  30. Narrator: Alien invaders. Me: WHAT SO ANIMALS
    ARE ALIENS?? MY WHOLE LIFE IS A LIE NOW Falls on floor struggling to breathe

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