Sargassum Invades Pacific Coast

Sargassum Invades Pacific Coast

I first learned about the Sargassum issue after scuba diving in Catalina and wondering why the rich kelp forests I was so used to diving in were no longer thriving. They were in fact dying. Upon doing some quick investigating via Google I learned about this invasive species changing the fragile marine ecosystem once sustained by the giant kelp. It’s been an ongoing issue for years but governmental officials were slow to react and thus it has became a full fledged invasion which will be hard to turn around. Sargassum horneri, (also known as “Devil Weed”) arrived in California (from the Port of Long Beach to be exact) nearly a decade ago via a freighter from Japan. It’s a thick, weedy algae that can grow up to 10 feet tall.  It grows so dense it blocks out sunlight and steals nutrients from native species such as the giant kelp.  Sargassum is capable of self-fertilization (both the female and male are in one plant) and it matures very early making it a very difficult for native species to compete. The title of this post – Sargassum Invades Pacific Coast –  is no exaggeration. It now blankets much of the mainland side of Catalina and the California coastline from Santa Barbara to Baja California.  It has even taking hold in the waters off Guadalupe Island which is famous for its Great White Shark diving. Prominent Marine Biologist Bill Bushing was among the first to note and sound the alarm in regards to the threat Sargassum posed not just to his favorite dive spot in Avalon, but up and down the California coastline.  We had a chance to catch up with “Dr. Bill” who shared his unique knowledge on the environmental threat of this invasive species.

2 Comments on Sargassum Invades Pacific Coast

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