Britain is under attack. This time, it’s by alien species invading the United Kingdom’s rivers and lakes, wreaking environmental havoc across the country.
A recent study with the ominous title “Is Great Britain heading for a Ponto-Caspian invasional meltdown?” identified five species already causing the U.K. trouble. Researchers warned that 10 more are expected to infiltrate the realm over the next five years.
“I think we are at a tipping point,” David Aldridge, the report’s coauthor, told BBC News. “We’ve been watching species heading our way from the Ponto-Caspian region for the past 20 years or so. They are all building up in the Rhine system just over the ocean.”
One of the big indicators is the recent arrival of the quagga mussel—which travels through ships’ water ballast—terrorizing native mussel species, ruining boat hulls, and clogging drainpipes.
From evil-sounding crustaceans such as the “demon shrimp” to tiny fish such as the round goby, most of the species are being transported by water ballast from northern Europe.
The area most susceptible to the alien invasion is the U.K.’s southeast waterways, including the Great Ouse, Severn, and Thames rivers.
The invasive species already running amok in the U.K. cost the nation’s economy around $2.7 billion annually.
“Very soon we’ll look in any bit of water in the U.K. and find that actually 90 percent of the biomass is nonnative organisms—that is what it’s like in parts of western Europe already,” Aldridge said.