Zapping Aliens With Concentrated Sunlight

Zapping Aliens With Concentrated Sunlight

The Duluth Seaway Port Authority is rocking the world with a ground breaking new technology that could greatly reduce the spread of aquatic exotic species. It has long been recognized that the destructive spread of alien species like zebra mussels, Eurasion milfoil, and the round-headed goby is largely due to ships (freighters from other countries) filling up their ballasts with water from overseas and dumping that load into local waters upon arriving in the Great Lakes region. Organisms contained in that water then have the potential to thrive in their new foreign environment, thereby negatively impacting the balance of native species. A new technology is being tested locally that would first filter ballast water for larger organisms and then zap the water with UV light a thousand times more powerful than the sun to kill off larvae, bacteria, etc.

It is hoped that tests will generate good news about this system, as its environmental implications are much more positive than its closest competitor—the relatively new practice of treating ballast water with chemical pesticides.

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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.