Ever since people started to travel by ship, they have inadvertently carried “pests” with them, including diseases, rats and, largely unnoticed, marine organisms. Historical records and studies on modern replicas indicate that wooden sailing ships were often heavily encrusted with fouling organisms.
A wooden sailing vessel in 1750 could have carried 120 marine organisms fouling, boring into or nestling on the hull and another 30 associated with dry ballast and the anchor chain.
These organisms often have been scrubbed off at stops along the voyage or left on the rotting hull once the ship reached its journey's end.
It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, to find that many wood boring species, like the teredo “worm” (actually a mollusc) have cosmopolitan distributions. Such distributions could well reflect zoological collecting that was done after, rather than before the European global “discovery travels” in… heavily fouled wooden vessels. In reality, we may never know for certain the true natural distributions of such species.
And…, did you know the woodworm is a delicacy in renowed Philippine restaurants, known as tamilok (woodworm)?