Leaf Caulerpa, an invasive species of algae native to Florida was found by a diver in Newport Bay.
NEWPORT BEACH一 On April 22 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that multiple federal, state, and local agencies had been notified about the finding of an invasive species of algae in Newport Bay.
The patch of algae was discovered by a diver in the Entrance Channel area of Newport Harbor and was later identified by the California Department of Food and Agriculture who then alerted the other agencies.
The species of algae, Caulerpa prolifera, or leaf Caulerpa, is native to Florida and other subtropical areas.
Leaf Caulerpa, is a green macroalgae that is known to grow quickly and is popular for its close appearance to seagrass. The algae is commonly used as a sand bed cover in a lot of macro tanks, according to reefcleaners.org.
The algae can be identified by dark green, slender, oval shaped blades.
It can reach up to 6 feet in length and has been known to grow at a very quick rate, according to the Marine Plant Book.
The CDFW reported that while the algae is not harmful to humans it can overrun the environment, choking out native seaweeds and could potentially cause a loss of habitat for marine animals.
There was a similar species of algae that was identified in California in 2000, Caulerpa taxifolia. The algae also known as Killer Alga is an extremely invasive and harmful species that is native to tropical waters. It was dangerous because it smothered the other algae species, sea grasses, and sessile invertebrate communities. Aside from outcompeting other species for food, habitat, or light, it also had a toxic effect on other marine life, according to the University of Riverside Center for Invasive Species Research.
The species was eradicated in Southern California in 2006, and cost $7 million over the course of six years.
The Caulerpa species of algae can reproduce by fragmentation, when small pieces break off and can root and reproduce quickly, because of this and the similarities between the two algae, scientists are concerned that leaf Caulerpa will be a detriment to the environment.
The CDFW has deployed a team of divers to identify and map the location of the species and determine if it has spread.
They are asking that the public avoid contact with the plant “due to its extreme ease of recolonizing from just tiny fragments.”
If you see the algae, please report it to the CDFW with a location, description, and a photo if possible.
For more information see the CDFW website at https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/.