MIT Sea Grant Center for Coastal Resources

Hitchhikers Guide to Exotic Species

Seen an invader and in a hurry? You can report your sighting on our Hitchhiker's data entry page.

The MIT Sea Grant Hitchhikers Guide to Exotic Species is a field guide for beachcombers, students and other interested citizens. It is printed on waterproof paper and contains color photographs and information on several introduced species and a few native species (for comparison). It may be used simply for your information, or to help us track the spread of these species.

Exotic species (also known as non-native species, invasive species, or bioinvaders) are species which have established themselves in a new ecosystem where they are not a native. In many cases, this means that without their natural predators and other controls, they proliferate and push out native species. For more information on Exotic Species, see our Marine Bioinvaders page.

By learning more about how non-native species spread along the coast, we may be able to help prevent future invasions. You can help us track the spread of Exotic Species by using the Hitchhikers Guide and reporting your sightings. Use the links below to download the guide, look for species, and report your sightings back to us.

Hitchhikers Guide Cover

Get the Hitchhikers Guide
Download an electronic copy of the guide in PDF format. This is a large (1.7MB) download, which may take a long time over slow connections. If you don't already have it, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this file.
If you would like a paper copy of the guide, email your request to: or contact Judith Pederson at the address below.

Search for Exotic Species
Go to the beach, look under a dock, or check out what's growing anywhere along the edge of the water or underneath it, and see if you can find any of the species pictured in the Hitchhikers Guide, or in our
Hitchhikers Gallery

Verify Species Identification
To provide us with useful information, follow the instructions on the
Verification Instructions Page.

Submit your Exotic Species Sighting
If you have seen a marine exotic (also known as non-native, invasive, and bioinvader), please report it via the "Hitchhiker's Guide to Exotic Species" link on the home page of our Marine Invader Tracking Information System.

View Hitchhiker sightings Online
To see maps of hitchhiker sightings and other sightings of non-native species, go to our
Exotic Maps Page.
Note that your sighting submission will not be immediately available to view on the maps. We will add it once the sighting and species identificaiton have been verified, which could take some time.

For more information on the Hitchhikers Guide, or our Invasive Species programs, please contact:

Judith Pederson
MIT Sea Grant College Program
292 Main Street, Bldg E38-300
Cambridge, MA 02139



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  this page last updated on: 14 November, 2006