Friday, March 6, 2015

Pathways of Invasion: Suez Canal Expansion Project

The Mediterranean Sea is a relatively closed-off water body, with one of the main outlets being the 146 year-old Suez Canal.  This canal is relatively narrow, only 1,000 ft wide at its narrowest point, and is a vital shipping route between Europe and Asia.  Due to its smaller size, Egypt has planned to expand the canal, and in parts it will be a parallel canal, to increase the shipping speed and capabilities in the region.  Invasive species are already a reality in the Mediterranean due to the Suez Canal, with over 350 species introduced, the most concerning being puffer fish and venomous jellyfish.  The widening and deepening of the canal concerns scientists, as it can create a more stable environment and allow for more species to find their way into the Mediterranean.  While conservationists and environmentalists have raised their concerns, the economic potential of increased shipping traffic has allowed the plans to move forward and the expansion is expected to be completed within 2015.

For more on the subject: Delivering Unwelcome Species to the Mediterranean