Jun 23 2012 -- Aug 30 2012 ‘Un-Wanted Ad’ Posted for Tsunami-Borne Invader
Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida)Gayle Hansen, an Oregon State University research faculty member who is a leading marine algae (seaweed) specialist, has posted a warning, prompted by one of the hitchhikers on the notorious Japanese dock that washed up at Agate Beach near Newport. Many have heard that literally tons of non-native species, many of them potentially invasive, were found clinging to the dock, but may not realize that one of those species is on the watch list of potential invaders most feared by scientists.
As “wakame,” it is a highly valued edible species in Japan, where it is cultivated. But as Undaria pinnatifida, its scientific name, this kelp is known outside its native range as a highly invasive species that can drastically disrupt ecosystems where it is an intruder. It has already invaded the West Coast as far north as San Francisco Bay, and scientists concerned about protecting native ecosystems have been watching anxiously to see if it would spread further. It appears that the Undaria found aboard the dock was successfully intercepted and destroyed, but the incident is a reminder that tsunami debris may come freighted with invasive species.
Dr. Hansen, who also happens to be a CoastWatcher, has prepared a special handout showing beachcombers what to look for and giving suggestions for handling suspected Undaria. CoastWatchers can help by making an effort to observe carefully for “wakame” washing up with debris or establishing itself in newly disturbed areas. If you believe you have spotted this species, follow the steps she advises and report the finding to email@example.com.
Gayle Hansen would also appreciate being contacted about any confirmed or likely encounters with this species: (541) 867-5012 (lab phone), or e-mail.
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