Invasion History

First Non-native North American Tidal Record: 1952
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record: 2000
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record: 1952

General Invasion History:

Teredo bartschi is widespread in tropical and subtropical seas, and has been reported from Florida, Bermuda, throughout the Caribbean to Brazil, Hawaii, Australia, Iraq, Ghana, Kenya, and Fiji (Wallour 1960; Turner 1971; Barreto 2000; Borges et al. 2014a; Borges et al. 2014b). Although it was first described from the southeastern United States with type specimens from Tampa, Florida and occurrences reported from South Carolina to Texas (Clapp 1923), it is regarded as cryptogenic in Atlantic waters south of Cape Hatteras, and over most of its tropical-subtropical range (Carlton and Ruckelshaus 1997). Occurrences in the Pacific Coast of Mexico, California, the eastern Mediterranean, and Portugal are probable introductions (Abbott 1974; Hendrickx 1980; Borges et al. 2014a; Borges et al. 2014b).

North American Invasion History:

Invasion History on the West Coast:

Teredo bartschi was collected in Mexican Pacific waters in the Gulf of California in 1971 at La Paz, and in 1978 in Sinaloa, 30 km north of Mazatlan (Hendrickx 1980). It is known in California waters from specimens collected in San Diego in 1927, and in 2000 it was collected in Long Beach Harbor (Cohen et al. 2002).

Invasion History on the East Coast:

Teredo bartschi is cryptogenic in the northwest Atlantic. Its northern breeding limit in the Western Atlantic was believed to be South Carolina (Clapp 1923; Turner 1971), but its range has been extended by transport via boats and by the heated effluents of power plants (Hoagland and Turner 1980; Hoagland 1986a). In 1944–52, it was found in test boards at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth VA (Brown 1953). There are no further records from Chesapeake Bay. In 1973, breeding populations of T. bartschi were found in Barnegat Bay NJ, in Oyster Creek and Forked River, where they became very abundant, and damaging to wooden structures. These creeks were receiving heated effluent from the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station (Hoagland and Turner 1980; Richards et al. 1984). The abundance of T. bartschi was reduced following a powerplant shutdown in the winter of 1979–1980 (Richards et al. 1984). This shipworm has not been collected to our knowledge since 1982 (Hoagland 1986a; Hillman et al. 1990; Carlton 1992). In 1979, it was found in thermal effluents of the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant Waterford, Connecticut (Hoagland 1986a; Hoagland 1986b). The populations here remained small (Hoagland 1986b) and were no longer present by 2000 (James T. Carlton, personal communication 2000). These isolated populations of subtropical shipworms are very vulnerable to winter shutdowns of powerplants and are likely to be sporadic. 

Invasion History in Hawaii:

Teredo bartschi was found in Hilo Harbor, Hawaii and at Pearl Harbor, Oahu both in 1935 (Edmondson 1942 cited by Turner 1966, Coles et al. 1999b; Carlton and Eldredge 2009). It has also been collected at Midway Island (Wallour 1960).

Invasion History Elsewhere in the World:

On the Atlantic coast of Europe, T. bartschi was found to be established in the Ria Formosa, Olhao, Portugal, in the Gulf of Cadiz, in 2002 (Borges et al. 2014a). It was first found in the Mediterranean in Port Said, Egypt, at the mouth of the Suez Canal in 1935 (Roch 1935, cited by Turner 1966); and has been found in Mersin Turkey, on the Levantine Coast 2002–2003 (Borges et al. 2014a). In 2002, T. bartschi was collected in the Lagoon of Venice and has survived at least through to 2017 despite temperatures near 0°C (Tagliapetra et al. 2021). The range of this shipworm can be expected to expand with rising sea temperatures. 


Teredo bartschi belongs to the family Teredinidae (shipworms), which are highly modified mollusks, hardly recognizable as bivalves, and adapted for boring into wood. The shell is reduced to two small, ridged valves covering the head, and used for grinding and tearing wood fibers. The body is naked and elongated and ends with two siphons protected by elaborate calcareous structures called pallets (Turner 1966). In T. bartschi, the shell resembles that of the Naval Shipworm (T. navalis), but is smaller, with the auricle of the shell semicircular rather than subtriangular. The pallets have a long stalk, with a short blade deeply excavated at the tip, forming a U-shape. The distal third of the cap is made of periostracum, which is light golden to dark brown and semitransparent, extending at the corners to form small horns. The calcareous base can be seen through the periostracum and resembles an hourglass. Description from: Turner 1966; Turner 1971; Abbott 1974. 
The type specimen ofT. bartschi had a shell 4.2 mm long and 4 mm high, while the pallets were 5 mm long with a stalk 3 mm long (Clapp 1923). Teredo bartschi can reach maturity at a length of 4mm and reach a maximum size of 132mm in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey (Hoagland 1983). 
Potentially misidentified species—The diversity of shipworms in tropical waters is very great. Many are now widely distributed in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, largely because of shipping. The species listed below have been reported from Florida, the Caribbean, the West Coast of North America, or Hawaiian waters. 


Taxonomic Tree

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:   Mollusca
Class:   Bivalvia
Subclass:   Heterodonta
Order:   Myoida
Superfamily:   Pholadoidea
Family:   Teredinidae
Genus:   Teredo
Species:   bartschi


Teredo aegyptia (Roch, 1935)
Teredo balatro (Iredale, 1932)
Teredo batilliformis (Clapp, 1924)
Teredo fragilis (Tate, 1888)
Teredo grobba (Moll, 1937)
Teredo hiloensis (Edmondson, 1942)
Teredo shawi (Iredale, 1932)

Potentially Misidentified Species

Lyrodus bipartitus
Cosmopolitan, tropical, subtropical

Lyrodus floridanus
W Atlantic, subtropical

Lyrodus pedicellatus
Cosmopolitan, tropical-warm temperate, a species complex

Teredo clappi
Cosmopolitan, tropical, subtropical

Teredo fulleri
Cosmopolitan, tropical

Teredo furcifera
Cosmopolitan, tropical, subtropical

Teredo johneoni
Cosmopolitan, tropical, subtropical

Teredo navalis
Cosmopolitan, tropical-cold temperate



Shipworms dig long burrows in submerged wood in marine environments. They burrow by rocking and abrading the wood fibers. The mantle covers most of the length of their body and secretes a calcareous lining along the interior of the burrow. They normally have their anterior end with head and shells inside the burrow, and their siphons protruding. The pallets plug the burrow when the siphons are retracted (Barnes 1983). 
Shipworms are protandrous hermaphrodites, beginning life as male and transforming to female, but they have no capacity for self-fertilization. Males release sperm into the water column which fertilizes eggs for the female. The fertilized eggs are then brooded in the gills. Larvae are retained in the gills to the veliger stage (Hoagland 1986a; Richards et al. 1984). The larvae of Teredo bartschi are planktonic for about 3 days. They settle in the pediveliger stage, and then rapidly metamorphose and begin boring into wood within 2-3 days. They quickly develop a calcified shell, pallets, and burrow lining (Turner and Johnson 1971). Shipworms may obtain some (or most, Paalvast and van der Velde 2013) of their nutrition from plankton, but some comes from wood, which consists of cellulose. Symbiotic bacteria fix nitrogen, essential for protein synthesis (Turner and Johnson 1971; Barnes 1983). 
Teredo bartschi is known from fixed wood structures, panels, driftwood, and mangroves in tropical and subtropical climates, and in heated power plant effluents in temperate estuaries (Wallour 1960; Hoagland and Turner 1980; Ibrahim 1981; Hoagland 1983; Singh and Sasekumar 1994). Teredo bartschi is sensitive to low temperatures. There was only 18–20% survival of newly settled juveniles at 10°C and adults became inactive at 13–17°C and died at 3°C (Hoagland 1986a). In temperate regions, its survival is dependent on warm effluent waters. Adult shipworms can tolerate salinities as low as 7 PSU (Hoagland 1986a) and as high as 45 PSU (Cragg et al. 2009). Larvae, reared at 22 PSU and 24°C, survived transfer to 12 and 35 PSU, and to 20 and 3°C (Hoagland 1986a). 


Phytoplankton, Wood

Trophic Status:

Suspension Feeder



General HabitatCoarse Woody DebrisNone
General HabitatMarinas & DocksNone
General HabitatVessel HullNone
General HabitatMangrovesNone
Salinity RangeMesohaline5-18 PSU
Salinity RangePolyhaline18-30 PSU
Salinity RangeEuhaline30-40 PSU
Tidal RangeSubtidalNone
Tidal RangeLow IntertidalNone

Life History

Tolerances and Life History Parameters

Minimum Temperature (ºC)5Field: Italy, Lagoon of Venice (Tagliapietra et al. 2021)Experimental- There was only 18-20% survival of newly settled juveniles at 10 C and adults became inactive at 13-17 C and died at 3 C (Hoagland 1986a).
Maximum Temperature (ºC)35Experimental (Hoagland 1986a).
Minimum Salinity (‰)7Experimental (Hoagland 1986a).
Maximum Salinity (‰)45Experimental (Hoagland 1986a).
Minimum Dissolved Oxygen (mg/l)0

Teredo bartschi is presumed, like T. navalis, to survive anoxic conditions for extended periods by using stored glycogen. Teredo navalis can survive 6 weeks sealed in burrows, but prolonged low O2 can interfere with feeding and reduce infestations (Richards et al. 1984).

Minimum Reproductive Temperature20Experimental (Hoagland 1986a).
Maximum Reproductive Temperature35Experimental (Hoagland 1986a).
Minimum Reproductive Salinity12Experimental (Hoagland 1986a).
Maximum Reproductive Salinity35Experimental (Hoagland 1986a).
Minimum Duration3Larvae
Minimum Length (mm)4Minimum mature size, Barnegat Bay NJ (Hoagland 1983).
Maximum Length (mm)132Barnegat Bay NJ (Hoagland 1983).
Broad Temperature RangeNoneWarm temperate-Tropical
Broad Salinity RangeNoneMesohaline-Euhaline

General Impacts

Teredo bartschi is one of many shipworms contributing to the rapid riddling of wood in tropical and subtropical waters. Its impacts in these warm waters are difficult to assess, because of the diversity of the shipworm community. However, in the temperate waters of New Jersey where it was restricted to areas warmed by thermal effluents, it reached high abundance and caused extensive damage to marinas near the Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant in Barnegat Bay (Turner 1973; Hoagland and Turner 1980). 

Regional Impacts

NA-ET3Cape Cod to Cape HatterasEconomic ImpactShipping/Boating
The warm effluents of Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station (NJ) dramatically raised temperatures and salinities in parts of Barnegat Bay, resulting in the invasion of shipworms including Teredo bartschi into previously unaffected areas, causing severe damage to docks and pilings in marinas (Turner 1973; Hoagland and Turner 1980; Hoagland 1983; Richards et al. 1984).
M070Barnegat BayEconomic ImpactShipping/Boating
The warm effluents of Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station (NJ) dramatically raised temperatures and salinities in parts of Barnegat Bay, resulting in the invasion of shipworms including Teredo bartschi into previously unaffected areas, causing severe damage to docks and pilings in marinas (Turner 1973; Hoagland and Turner 1980; Hoagland 1983; Richards et al. 1984).
NJNew JerseyEconomic ImpactShipping/Boating
The warm effluents of Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station (NJ) dramatically raised temperatures and salinities in parts of Barnegat Bay, resulting in the invasion of shipworms including Teredo bartschi into previously unaffected areas, causing severe damage to docks and pilings in marinas (Turner 1973; Hoagland and Turner 1980; Hoagland 1983; Richards et al. 1984).

Regional Distribution Map

Bioregion Region Name Year Invasion Status Population Status
CAR-VII Cape Hatteras to Mid-East Florida 1922 Crypto Estab
CAR-I Northern Yucatan, Gulf of Mexico, Florida Straits, to Middle Eastern Florida 1922 Crypto Estab
NA-ET4 Bermuda 1924 Crypto Estab
CAR-II None 0 Crypto Estab
CAR-IV None 0 Crypto Estab
CAR-III None 0 Crypto Estab
RS-3 None 0 Crypto Estab
RS-2 None 0 Crypto Estab
RS-1 None 0 Crypto Estab
SA-II None 0 Crypto Estab
EAS-VI None 0 Crypto Estab
AUS-X None 1932 Crypto Unk
AUS-XII None 0 Crypto Estab
AUS-VII None 1888 Crypto Estab
AUS-IV None 0 Crypto Estab
MED-V None 1935 Def Estab
AG-3 None 1937 Crypto Estab
SP-XXI None 1935 Def Estab
NEP-VII None 1971 Def Estab
NEP-VIII None 1978 Def Estab
NA-ET3 Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras 1974 Def Unk
NEP-VI Pt. Conception to Southern Baja California 2001 Def Estab
SP-XII None 0 Crypto Estab
EAS-III None 0 Crypto Estab
WA-II None 0 Crypto Estab
EA-III None 0 Crypto Estab
SP-VII None 0 Crypto Estab
G130 Pensacola Bay 0 Crypto Estab
G260 Galveston Bay 1922 Crypto Estab
G070 Tampa Bay 1922 Crypto Estab
S180 St. Johns River 0 Crypto Estab
G310 Corpus Christi Bay 1922 Crypto Estab
P050 San Pedro Bay 2000 Def Estab
M040 Long Island Sound 1979 Def Unk
M130 Chesapeake Bay 1952 Def Unk
P020 San Diego Bay 1927 Def Failed
M070 Barnegat Bay 1974 Def Failed
S080 Charleston Harbor 1922 Crypto Estab
S020 Pamlico Sound 0 Crypto Estab
S045 _CDA_S045 (New) 0 Crypto Estab
S140 St. Catherines/Sapelo Sounds 0 Crypto Estab
S170 St. Marys River/Cumberland Sound 0 Crypto Estab
S190 Indian River 0 Crypto Estab
S200 Biscayne Bay 0 Crypto Estab
G080 Suwannee River 1922 Crypto Estab
G110 St. Andrew Bay 1922 Crypto Estab
G160 East Mississippi Sound 1922 Crypto Estab
G170 West Mississippi Sound 1922 Crypto Estab
G190 Mississippi River 1922 Crypto Estab
G300 Aransas Bay 0 Crypto Estab
P050 San Pedro Bay 2000 Def Estab
CIO-II None 0 Crypto Estab
SA-III None 0 Crypto Estab
SA-I None 1969 Crypto Unk
NEA-V None 2002 Def Estab
NWP-3a None 0 Crypto Estab
PAN_CAR Panama Caribbean Coast 0 Crypto Estab
SP-I None 1991 Crypto Unk
SEP-Z None 1987 Def Estab
MED-VII None 2007 Def Estab
SEP-I None 1987 Def Estab

Occurrence Map

OCC_ID Author Year Date Locality Status Latitude Longitude
30814 Cohen, et al. 2002 (So Cal Exotics RAS) 2000 2000-08-30 Impound Marina, Long Beach/ Def 33.7639 -118.2444


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