Atlas HUB

Exotic species in the Mediterranean Sea

CIESM Atlases Series

The transfer of exotic species in the Mediterranean Sea is as ancient as maritime transport. In Phoenician times, marine organisms from distant shores were certainly introduced to the Mediterranean world across the Strait of Gibraltar and then from port to port around the Basin, transported on ship hulls or in ballast. The piercing of the Suez Canal in the late 19th century opened the door to species invasions from the Red Sea. The subsequent, rapid development of shipping traffic and mariculture operations, together with the pressure of global warming, have generated a change in Mediterranean marine biodiversity that is without precedent in human memory and is fast accelerating. 

As a result, marine exotic species originating from the Indo-Pacific ocean (mainly) and also from the tropical Atlantic have now become a significant component of Mediterranean ecosystems. For the past twenty five years, expert groups of the Mediterranean Science Commission patiently recorded these changes which concern hundreds and hundreds of marine species, focusing on seaweeds, invertebrates, and fishes.  The outcome is an elegant series of five richly documented, finely illustrated volumes that compose the authoritative CIESM Exotic Atlas collection.

These books tell the story of a changing world … you are invited to browse.