Alien species Mediterranean invasion after Suez Canal expansion
More than 350 marine invasive alien species have already traversed the Suez Canal
The undergoing Suez Canal expansion - launched in August 2014 - is expected to double the Canal capacity from 49 to 97 ships a day. Construction of the project is expected to take a year. However some experts think that Suez Canal expansion could actually cause more alien species to invade the Mediterranean.
"If you have more ships and the canal is wider, then the probability of species making the journey significantly increases," said Noa Shenkar of Tel Aviv University's Zoology Department and Museum of Natural History.
Alien species will be able to ride on passing ships into new waters, once the new canal is opened. More than 350 marine invasive alien species have already traversed the Suez Canal from the Red Sea into the Mediterranean.
Shenkar brought to Israel scientists from across the Mediterranean in order to help devise a strategy that will hopefully mitigate the effects of an enlarged canal invasion.
Some possible counter-measures are already in place, such as the creation of a highly salted water "barrier" at the Suez Canal's exit.
Even before the original Suez Canal was excavated, a French zoologist argued that the canal would allow organisms to "emigrate". His name was Leon Vaillant, and he called for a survey of the pre-canal ecosystem, that never took place.
Further inaction might lead to a large-scale, irreparable ecosystem damage.