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Ballast water: Shipping vessels

When ocean cargo freighters cross the ocean, they use something called a ballast to balance the ship as it crosses the rough waters. Today, modern ocean freighters use water for their ballast. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s solid soil ballasts were used, which provided a pathway to transfer seeds of exotic plants. The ballast water is drawn in at the ship’s origin, and must be pumped out at its destination prior to unloading the ship’s cargo. Many organisms may survive within the water as the ship crosses the ocean and introduced to a new area. The Great Lakes provide a perfect connection for ocean freighters to ship cargo to and from Canada to overseas which has resulted in over 180 non-indigenous aquatic species to become established within the Great Lakes Basin.

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