Tsunami Boat Has Oregon Coast Officials on Lookout for Invasive Algae
(Oregon Coast) – Oregon coast scientists and environmental groups are now on the lookout for one kind of spooky invasive species after a chunk of a derelict vessel was found floating offshore this week. The boat - determined likely from the 2011 tsunami and now being studied in Newport - contained a few creatures that are not native to Oregon, but their risk to the environment here is low. However, one species of kelp may pose a problem. (Above: the tsunam dock in Newport in 2012 had some invasive algae on it).
Gayle Hansen is a member of the volunteer group CoastWatch and a scientist at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. She said two kinds of algae – or kelp – were discovered aboard that craft, and both were dropping spores. This means they were reproducing along the way. One is a kind that is common to these waters and not a problem, but the other is of a non-native species.
Hansen said they are now on the lookout for what is called Saccharina japonica, a kind of kelp that is nearly identical to the kinds common to this area. Hansen sent out an alert through CoastWatch Monday, asking that anyone finding tsunami debris to look carefully at any kelp found on it.
Hansen and other scientists worry this one could drastically alter the near-shore environment.
Above: the good guy kelp, Petalonia.
“If one of these species found one of these habitats to be fabulous, and it decided to rapidly reproduce, it would out-compete our native species,” she said. “And then we would have a change of habitat because it would dominate the environment.”
The kelp - or seaweed, as it's often known – around these parts is Petalonia, and it looks almost completely identical to the more threatening Saccharina.
The bad guy kelp (at right) narrows to a small stem, which is then attached to a roundish object called the holdfast, which is how the kelp attaches to things.
The good guy kelp Petalonia has no such stem, but instead the blade-shaped leaf narrows to a point that is attached to the holdfast.
“Please, if you collect Petalonia, be sure to look to see if stipes are present on any of the material,” Hansen said.
In spite of the alert, Hansen is not too worried. She's even careful to point out she uses the idea of “habitat change” rather than the word “destroy.” Hansen said that if the new species of kelp were to alter things, it would be mean a change in the kind of fish and invertebrates found in this area. The fish, however, would be a big problem, she admits.
Still, she notes there has not yet been any evidence of colonization of any non-native species to the Oregon coast. There are signs that any new species may not ever survive long enough to reproduce into colonies.
“A lot of things have been coming here for a while on larger debris,” Hansen said. “And if theu were going to make it, they would've made it by now.”
If you find any such material, send them to Hansen at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. See the contact info here.
More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....
More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....
LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles
Back to Oregon Coast
Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net