In March, 2021, an invasive algae species was discovered in Newport Bay, California. The algae, which is native to Florida and other subtropical and tropical locales, is scientifically known as Caulerpa prolifera. It can grow quickly, choking out native seaweeds and potentially harming marine life through lost habitat.
Federal, state, and local agencies have been meeting and working quickly to identify the extent of the algae's infestation in Newport Bay. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) scientists and divers are currently being deployed to map and identify the location of the species.
Caulerpa prolifera is a species of green alga in the family Caulerpaceae. The alga is bright green and consists of a number of blades linked by underground runners (stolons), which attach to the substrate with small root-like structures (rhizoids). Below are photos of Caulerpa prolifera found in Newport Bay.
Why is Caulerpa Bad?
The invasive can grow quickly and rapidly outcompete native species, including native eelgrass, and may be inedible to native marine herbivorous fish and invertebrates.
What Should You Do?
Although there is significant concern this species could potentially be harmful to native species, there is no danger to humans. However, it is imperative that the public avoid contact with the plant due to its extreme ease of recolonizing from just tiny fragments. If you believe you have seen this invasive algae, please use the form on the right to submit a notification to CDFW.