Marine Wood Borers Return

Thanks to cleaner water, native species have returned to New York Harbor — including, unfortunately, mollusk wood borers.

| November/December 1984

marine wood borers encrusted on wooden pier

Mollusk wood borers can destroy pier posts in short order.

Photo by Fotolia/stoonn

One of the incidental benefits of pollution in New York Harbor was that marine borers — mollusks that can eat wooden wharf pilings at a disturbing rate — abandoned the harbor filth for cleaner waters. Some unwelcome evidence that pollution control measures have been successful there is that the borers have returned.

Pine panels were submerged in the harbor during the spring of last year to check the severity of the infestation. When the panels were removed that fall, up to 90% of the wood had been destroyed. Scientists are hoping to find a less drastic means of controlling the borer this time around, and have had some success with a rosewood extract that weakens the mollusks' shells, making it difficult for them to bore deeply into the wood.

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