According to Brian Ladin, if you've ever wondered how to protect a ship from biofouling, you're not alone. This growing problem has become a major concern for shipowners and has led them to spend significant resources trying to control it. Ships must have a management plan that identifies the biofouling risk and devises a strategy to deal with it. Antifouling systems are coatings applied to solids that prevent the growth of unwanted organisms. SealCoat systems, for instance, have small fibers poking out of the coating surface to prevent microbes from attaching to it.
The biofouling community consists of a wide range of organisms, including algae, seaweed and calcareous mollusks. Typically, the resulting film is composed of dissolved organic matter, and bacterial adhesion are the most common types. These organisms are highly diverse and are often categorized into hard and soft fouling. Non-calcareous fouling organisms, which are found on a broad range of surfaces, include seaweed and algae, and microfouling organisms. These organisms produce biofilms, or'slime', and they can be hard to remove.
In temperate environments (5 to 20 degrees C), biofouling occurs almost throughout the year. However, it does show strong seasonality, with most spawning taking place between April and early October. In this climate, the temperature of the substrate has little influence on the growth of biofouling, despite its widespread prevalence. A few key factors contribute to the problem of marine biofouling, including the following.
Climate change is also a big concern. It affects coastal industries and threatens biodiversity. Biofouling can also cause ship speed to drop by up to 10%, or require a 40% increase in fuel. It is important to recognize that climate change will likely result in many major changes in the marine biofouling community, and tackling it will help save the environment and marine industries alike. You may be surprised to learn that the climate change-related issues are similar to the problems posed by invasive species.
Brian Ladin thinks that the depth of water influences the structure of biofouling communities. During summer, temperatures are much higher than in polar areas, so biofouling will be less intense. In contrast, biofouling in tropical and subtropical locations is much more frequent and intense. In addition, warmer water allows for continuous reproduction year-round and increases the biofouling organism's growth rate. This explains the apparent paradox of marine biofouling in these locations.
In addition to reducing ship performance, biofouling can affect structural integrity. The most common organisms responsible for biofouling are kelp, calcareous tubeworms, and bryozoans. Microfouling promotes corrosion, while macrofouling may facilitate MIC. Regardless of the cause, biofouling is a serious problem for marine environments. So how do we protect our marine equipment from marine biofouling?
This study used a Before-After-Control-Impact sampling design to determine the changes in biofouling assemblages associated with different cleaning events. In addition to measuring biofouling, divers identified organisms attached to the hull from 50 points. They were then classified into broad taxonomic groups. Species-level identification was also possible using some sample collections. For more information, please consult Campbell et al.
Scientists at PNNL have also developed quantitative fouling measurement techniques and novel approaches to biofilm monitoring. One such innovation is SLIC (Superhydrophobic Lubricant Infused Composite). This material is 10 times more slippery than Teflon and has a liquid layer that prevents organisms from settling. The scientists are exploring how SLIC could help fight corrosion in marine renewable energy systems. Biofouling is a complex problem requiring a multidisciplinary approach.
Seaweed and other organisms use a technique known as grooming to control biofouling. Some species of seaweed employ pedicellaria to groom each other. Others use a technique called shedding their outer layer. These techniques are effective at controlling both types of biofouling. For example, when a marine organism uses a pedicellaria to groom another animal, the organism will automatically remove the biofouling from the host.
European data about biofouling was published in an online database that contains biofouling maps of many sites across Europe. Ecoregions are identified by yellow Roman numerals, and sites are characterized by the number of biofouling sampling records. Each site is closely mapped and classified by species composition and thickness. For more information, visit the European Biofouling Database (ECB).
Brian Ladin feels that Biofouling is caused by the accumulation of unwanted biological materials on surfaces. It poses substantial financial and health risks. Biofilms can include bacteria, barnacles, salt crystals, and corrosion. Ultimately, biofouling is a problem of enormous proportions. Hence, it is imperative to control and prevent the problem. It is crucial for marine environments to have biofilm-free surfaces. If you don't take action, biofouling could be a significant problem for your marine vessels.