Caulerpa Taxifolia Eradication

Carlsbad, Calif. - Governmental agencies and community-based environmental organizations came together today to celebrate the successful eradication of the invasive seaweed, Caulerpa taxifolia, from the two locations where it was detected nearly six years ago. The algae, first detected in Agua Hedionda Lagoon (near San Diego) and Huntington Harbour (near Los Angeles) in 2000, is one of only a few known eradications of an invasive marine alga species.

Caulerpa taxifolia, also referred to as "killer algae" because of its ability to devastate and overwhelm underwater ecosystems, was popular in home aquariums and likely introduced accidentally into California's waters several years ago. Legislation in 2001 made it illegal to sell, possess, or transfer Caulerpa taxifolia and eight other similar looking Caulerpa species in California. In other parts of the world, especially the Mediterranean Sea, Caulerpa taxifolia has rapidly, and permanently, displaced native marine plants and animals.

"The proliferation of Caulerpa in these waters would have irreversibly changed the ecosystem in California's near-shore coastal environment," said Tim Keeney, NOAA's Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. "It was only through the rapid response and cooperative efforts of organizations at all levels that we were successful in preventing an ecological crisis."

The Southern California Caulerpa Action Team (SCCAT) immediately formed following discovery of the seaweed in 2000, to develop a plan to eradicate it from the two known infestation locations. The team is composed of a number of agencies and organizations including the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries Service), San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation and Merkel & Associates, the pr

Contact: Jim Milbury
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service

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