If you find this seaweed, do not help it to spread. Ring us immediately
at +30 693 289649 or email us.
| It is particularly helpful
if you can give us the following information: Exact location and depth
of Caulerpa taxifolia found, type of substrate (sand, rock, Posidonia
meadows etc.) and approximate surface area occupied by the plant.
Since its introduction into the Mediterranean in 1984, the surface area colonized by Caulerpa taxifolia has increased constantly. The situation as of 1st July 1997: There are already 5 countries that are affected (Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Croatia) with more than 70 known locations of contamination and more than 3000 hectares already colonized. There is no reason to assume that the progression of this seaweed is likely to slow down! Accidentally introduced into the sea in Monaco in 1984, the green hybrid tropical seaweed Caulerpa taxifolia spread rapidly along the Mediterranean coast. It possesses certain unique characteristics (resistance to cold, gigantism, vigour of development, approx. 20mm per 24 hours, density, ecological dominance etc.) that have never been observed in populations of this kind, or in other seaweeds introduced in the Mediterranean.
All the stable substrates (rock, sand, silt, Posidonia meadows) can be colonized. All types of bottom, especially from 3to 40 m. can be invaded. Caulerpa taxifolia has even been observed in summer, alive and well established, though in lower density, as deep as -99m!
It is found both in good quality waters as well as in polluted harbours, on rocky headlands exposed to waves and in bays.
The spread of this permanent vegetal meadow continues from year to year until it covers all available bottom area. Gradually it dominates or eliminates other sea-weed or sea-grass (Posidonia oceanica meadows). The fauna populations too undergo profound changes, especially the sedentary (fixed on the bottom) species like sponges, gorgonians etc, as well as mobile fauna (e.g. sea urchins). This new dominant plant is not consumed by fish or marine invertebrates and thus does not constitute a replacement food which makes its ecological impact even more severe.
It is a beautiful fluorescent seaweed, with a characteristic "creeping" stem called the stolon. You can touch the seaweed without risk to yourself but harvesting or uprooting of the plant are delicate operations that should only be undertaken with proper authorization because any handling increases the risk of spreading and makes monitoring the contaminated areas increasingly difficult.
A fragment of the seaweed can survive for more than a week out of water in a warm, damp place (anchor-chain locker of boat, stowed fishing nets, scuba diving equipment bags). Once released again in the sea, the weed will start to develop and spread!
Several other harmless Caulerpa species exist naturally in the Mediterranean like C.prolifera and C.racemosa. The latter has invaded the Med. by way of the Suez canal. ( hence called a "Lessepsian species")
If you have picked up bits of this seaweed do not throw it back into the sea. Put it in a plastic bag, pop it in an envelope and please post it to us!
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Aegean Diving College (ADC)
Paros: Hrissi Akti (Golden Beach)
Tel. & Fax: +30 22840 433 47, +30 693 22 89 649, +30 693 27 57 123
V.A.T. Reg. 019580444