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Geotextiles protect shipwrecks from shipworms

April 1st, 2010 / By: / Geosynthetics, Projects

Approximately 100 shipwrecked vessels in the Baltic Sea are infested with shipworms, a species of bivalve mussel often called the “termites of the sea” because they break down wood structures immersed in water. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, estimate that 100,000 well-preserved shipwrecks in the Baltic Sea—many of them studied by archaeologists who glean information about how maritime nations lived in prior centuries—are at risk from the shipworm’s spread. A European Union project, WreckProtect, will assess where the shipworm may migrate next, which archaeologic treasures are most at risk and how best to fend off the pesky mussels without using toxins that injure non-target species. One option proposed is covering wrecks in geotextiles and bottom sediments to keep shipworms from breaking down the wood structures.

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