California scientists report the first appearance of a species bright green algae, caulerpa prolifera, growing in the ocean near California. And researchers say they hope they will never see him again.
The growth of caulerpa prolifera has been found near the coast off the town of Newport Beach in Southern California. Divers have recently started removing the algae as it could seriously harm the environment in the area. Few fish or other animals eat the caulerpa prolifera. It therefore spreads efficiently. It can quickly take over an ecosystem, pushing out other plants as well as the animals that eat them.
So far, the growth covers about 90 square meters. However, tiny pieces of algae can easily break off and continue to grow elsewhere.
Robert Mooney is a biologist with Marine Taxonomic Services. He led a team of three divers at the site.
He told The Associated Press that the team had the option of completely eliminating the plant, but they shouldn’t waste time.
“We don’t have the luxury to wait and see what happens, ”he said.
The species was discovered late last year. Federal, state and local authorities were urged to act earlier this year to prevent the spread of algae. It was important to act quickly, they said, as the movement of swimmers and boaters in the sea helps spread algae.
California faced a similar problem two years ago. A related algae has been found off the coasts of Huntington Beach and Carlsbad. Its withdrawal cost $ 7 million. California then banned the sale of these and other algae.
Caulerpa prolifera is used in certain aquarium and is not banned in California. When people clean aquariums, the resulting sewage can contain very small pieces of algae. These pieces will travel along waterways to the Pacific Ocean and begin to breed.
The source of the Newport Beach algae invasion is not confirmed. But Keith Merkel, biology consultant on the project, has a suspicion.
“The source is more than likely an aquarium discharge,” he said.
So far divers have not found the algae anywhere else in the region. But, Merkel said testing will continue and if more algae is found another removal operation will begin.
“There’s a good chance it has spread, we just don’t know where – which is the biggest fear we have,” Merkel said.
I am Jonathan Evans.
Amy Taxin reported this story to The Associated Press. Jonathan Evans adapted this story for Learn English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in this story
aquarium – nm a glass or plastic container in which fish and other aquatic animals and plants can live
luxury – nm something desirable but expensive or difficult to obtain
species – nm a group of animals or plants that are similar and may produce young animals or plants; a group of related animals or plants that is smaller than a genus