WHITTIER, Alaska (AP) — The hunt for new species that are not indigenous to the waters near Valdez, Alaska, turned up empty, which scientists said "was great news."
Scientists with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center reported their findings to the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council last month after scouring the waters for foreign species in the summer of 2016, the Alaska Journal of Commerce reported on Wednesday.
Linda McCann, a research technician for the center, said the "bioblitz" where scientists conducted a series of surveys on the city's harbor led to no new reports of foreign sea creatures. They used crab traps, mesh nets capable of capturing microscopic organisms and other mechanism to search the water. They also conducted dive surveys in the bay.
"The only thing we found in the dive surveys was a nonnative bryozoan, an encrusting moss-like animal that we know is all over Alaska and we had seen previously. So all good," McCann said. "The result of all of the surveys was great news."
The survey efforts also served as a platform to train local volunteers on how to identify the foreign species that could be heading to Alaska waters. The European green crab, an invasive species, was found in San Francisco Bay decades ago, and scientists have been tracking its northward movement, McCann said. The training was aimed creating citizen scientists who could help spot these species when they are near the water.
"We wanted to expand our methodology to include the general public," McCann said. "That gives us an opportunity to not only get to some additional places to survey, but we've got some additional eyes out there to look for us."
McCann recommended that the council continue training these volunteers and conduct similar surveys every two to five years.