Coastkeeper Joins Effort In Newport Bay Against Invasive Algae

Newport and Balboa Bay on a summer Day

Photo: Getty Images

NEWPORT BEACH (CNS) - An aggressive algae spreading in Newport Bay could harm marine life, and Orange County Coastkeeper announced today that it is joining the effort to eradicate the invasive species.

The algae, known as Caulerpa Prolifera, is not native to the area and has been identified as detrimental to local habitats, according to Orange County Coastkeeper, a nonprofit clean water organization that acts as a steward for freshwater and saltwater ecosystems and is part of the International Waterkeeper Alliance.

Coastkeeper is participating in surveying and eradicating the algae, which is native to Florida and other subtropical and tropical locales and can grow quickly, choking out native species -- such as eel grass – and potentially harm marine life through lost habitat.

Removal involves diver-assisted suction and divers in the water surveying the area and removing loose pieces and fragments.

The removal effort is being led by Merkel & Associates and Marine Taxonomic Services, and began in early July in Newport Bay's China Cove, next to the Kerckhoff Marine Laboratory. The Southern California Caulerpa Action Team, made up of several federal agencies and partners, also has convened to respond to the threat posed by the algae.

Coastkeeper is conducting dive surveys and monitoring in the surrounding coves just north of where the invasive species was first detected.

“We couldn't do this work without our partners,'' said Katie Nichols, marine restoration director for Orange County Coastkeeper. “It's an extremely important process because we need to ensure this species does not disrupt our native species and keep our local habitats intact.''

Coastkeeper experts said Caulerpa Prolifera and its close relatives in the genus Caulerpa have previously caused significant and expensive damage to coastal waters in California. This species group has also had extensive impacts elsewhere, including throughout the Mediterranean and Australia.

“Allowing any species of this algae to become established and spread within California is likely to result in considerable economic, recreational and biological impacts,'' according to a statement issued by the nonprofit. “The hope is that it can be removed swiftly and not get established in other areas.''

Beachgoers, boaters and users of the bay that have sightings of the algae are encouraged to report it to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

For more information about Orange County Coastkeeper, or call 714-850-1965.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content