This study aimed to identify the incrusting and sedentary animals associated with the hull of a tugboat active in the ports of Pernambuco and later loaned to the port of Natal, Rio Grande do Norte. Thus, areas with dense biofouling were scraped and the species then classified in terms of their bioinvasive status for the Brazilian coast. Six were native to Brazil, two were cryptogenic and 16 nonindigenous; nine of the latter were classified as established (Musculus lateralis, Sphenia fragilis, Balanus trigonus, Biflustra savartii, Botrylloides nigrum, Didemnum psammatodes, Herdmania pallida, Microscosmus exasperatus, and Symplegma rubra) and three as invasive (Mytilopsis leucophaeta, Amphibalanus reticulatus, and Striatobalanus amaryllis). The presence of M. leucophaeata, Amphibalanus eburneus and A. reticulatus on the boat's hull propitiated their introduction onto the Natal coast. The occurrence of a great number of tunicate species in Natal reflected the port area's benthic diversity and facilitated the inclusion of two bivalves - Musculus lateralis and Sphenia fragilis - found in their siphons and in the interstices between colonies or individuals, respectively. The results show the role of biofouling on boat hulls in the introduction of nonindigenous species and that the port of Recife acts as a source of some species.
Bioinvasion; vessels hulls; fouling community; harbor area; Nonindigenous species