Hitchhikers guide to invasive species MIT Sea Grant produces the Hitchhikers Guide to Exotic Species, a guide to spotting non-native invader species. Download a copy in PDF format. Waterproof guides are also available here

Reef Environmental Education Foundation is a grass-roots, non-profit organization of recreational divers who regularly conduct fish biodiversity and abundance surveys during their dives.
View collection data for Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Bays Program is a partnership of citizens, communities and government that strives to protect and enhance the coastal health and heritage of Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays

The New England Aquarium's hotline for any stranded marine animal is (617) 973-5247
All reports of living or dead marine animals should be reported to the hotline #, which is manned 24/7. Land animals and marine birds should be reported to town/city animal control.
What to do
More info

Northeast Seafood Watch
A program of Monterey Bay Aquarium designed to raise consumer awareness about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources.
NEW: Seafood watch by text message: text the word: "FISH" and the fish type to 30644 (normal text rates apply)
Invasive Species

Most Wanted: Chinese Mitten Crab

Mitten Crab Watch

Chinese Mitten Crab


  • hairy claws with white tips, normally equal in size
  • notch between the eyes
  • four lateral carapace spines (fourth spine is small)
  • smooth, round carapace or body shape
  • maximum carapace width (distance across the back) is approximately 80 mm (3 inches)
  • legs over twice as long as the carapace width
  • light brown color


  • notch between the eyes
  • claws may not be hairy if carapace width is less than 20 mm (¾ inch)
  • claws are hairy by 25 mm (1 inch) carapace width
  • four lateral carapace spines (fourth spine is small)
  • smooth, round carapace or body shape
  • legs over twice as long as the carapace width
  • light brown color

Reproduced from Mitten Crab Watch

Live Chinese Mitten Crabs (Eriocheir sinensis) have been found in Chesapeake Bay (2005-2007), Delaware Bay (2007), Hudson River (2007-2008), and most recently in New Jersey (2008). To date, there have been 19 crabs documented and confirmed in the eastern United States, including four states, all in the past four years. (from Salem Sound Coastwatch accessed 3/11/09)


Top Ten Invasive Species

If you have seen a marine exotic (also known as non-native, invasive, and bioinvader), please report it via Marine Invader Tracking Information System - [ Instructions ]

Get the Hitchhikers Guide
MIT Sea Grant produces a Hitchhikers Guide to Exotic Species, a handy guide to spot invasive species. Download an electronic copy of the guide in PDF format. (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this file).
If you would like a paper copy of the guide, email your request to: hitchhikers@mit.edu.

Some news stories of note:

Invasive seaweed threatens environment along New England coast

Update on geographic spread of invasive lionfishes

Hemigrapsus sanguineus (De Haan, 1835) (Crustacea: Brachyura: Grapsoidea)
a new invasive species in European waters: the case of the French English
Channel coast (2008–2010)

Mussels evolve quickly to defend against invasive crabs It looks like New England Mussels are evolving a harder shell to combat the increased attacks of invasive crabs. What's interesting is that this has occurred in about 15 years - rather than thousands of years that evolution usually takes

Invasive sea squirts persist on Georges Bank Monitoring by Woods Hole has found that the invasive Tunicates (see above) have thrived. "The area of seabed covered by the colonies has doubled at 75 percent of the sites we observed in both 2005 and 2006"