Most surveys of marine wood borers are confined to coastal situations and to the protected waters of bays, harbors, or estuaries. This is due to a lack of offshore facilities for experimental phases of the work or to the fact that the biological studies are tied in with industrial economics, which involves such structures as piers and wharfs. Furthermore, the investigator is sure of finding material near shore, as the boundaries of harbors and the narrow coastal zones, where wood is available, are the normal areas of operations of most shipworms.
The question of whether adult and larval marine wood borers can survive if removed from the comparative safety of their normal environment to distant offshore waters has not been answered, but the recovery of recently infested flotsam in the open sea indicates that larvae of marine borers spawned in mid-ocean can endure long enough to contact drifting timber and continue a chain of seafaring generations.
That species of Teredinidae can be transported far and wide by the wooden hulls of ships is undisputed, although the degree of dispersal cannot be estimated with certainty. This means of distribution probably rated high for a long time, declining in recent times as wood has given way to metal in ship construction. However, the appearance of exotic species of shipworms in Honolulu and Pearl harbors during World War II is substantial evidence that surface craft are still a factor in the dispersal of marine wood borers. (Edmondson, 1962)
- Edmondson, C. 1962Teredinidae, Ocean Travellers. Occasional papers on the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Volume XXI I I (3):45-59
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