Biologists at Harvard University, working under a contract to the Office of Naval Research, are searching for new ways to control marine boring and fouling organisms. Their aim is to find non-toxic substances that will repel marine foulers without harming the environment. Presently, hundreds of tons of toxic chemicals, used to control fouling organisms, are leached into the sea each year. By studying the life processes of fouling organisms, the Harvard biologists have developed several promising approaches to some fouling problems. For instance, it has been found that some marine foulers feed on bacterial slimes that grow on surfaces in the sea. By retarding bacterial growth, the researchers are now able to limit the settlement and growth of some fouling organisms. Similarly, wood borers (teredos) attack wood only after it has been softened by marine bacteria and molds. Methods of eliminating these softening-up organisms are currently being studied. Several effective non-toxic repellants that act directly against the fouling organisms have also been discovered. In the heavily infested waters of Florida, test samples of wood impregnated with tannins were effectively protected from marine borers for months. It has been found that a dilute solution of benzoic acid on a surface controls the settlement and germination of spores and some seaweed species. The chemical works by repelling the motile spores instead of by killing the seaweed. As they continue to learn about the biology of these organisms, the Harvard scientists hope to develop more alternatives to the use of crude toxicants.

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00152330
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Technical Information Service
  • Report/Paper Numbers: NAVM/SP-77/0014
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 13 2003 12:00AM