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Killer Algae Found off California Coast
     Recent Press Release
     SAN DIEGO, California, July 6, 2000 (ENS) - A mutant algae responsible for killing marine life throughout the Mediterranean has now invaded the seas off San Diego. The ocean weed smothers marine plants and animals, and releases a toxin that can destroy the eggs of many smaller species.
      Divers monitoring the growth of transplanted eel grass discovered the  algae on June 12 in a lagoon near the Cabrillo Power Plant I. That plant pledged earlier this year to restore marine habitat off of Carlsbad, California, about 20 miles north of San Diego.
    "This algae eliminates kelp beds and  poses an extreme danger to flora and fauna in the area," said Robert Hoffmann, Southern California environmental coordinator for the National Marine Fisheries Service.
     This is the first time the algae has been discovered anywhere along  the coasts of North and South America. So far, it has been detected only in the Agua Hedionda lagoon, where the largest patch measures 60 feet by 30 feet. Nine smaller patches have also been discovered. Scientists are moving quickly to destroy the algae.
     Researchers believe the toxic algae was developed as an aquarium plant by biologists  at the Stuttgart Zoo aquarium in Germany. Other aquariums adopted the bright green, fernlike plant as a cover for their artificial seabeds as well. The Oceanographic Museum of Monaco apparently dumped some of the algae into the Mediterranean in 1984, where it spread to cover 1,000 acres by 1992, and more than 10,000 acres by 1999.
     In 1999, President Bill Clinton banned the import and sale of Caulerpa in the U.S under the federal Noxious Weed Act. But hobbyists can still buy the algae from aquarium dealers, warned Hoffman. When these hobbyists clean their tanks and dump the salt water contents down storm sewers, the algae can spread to the wild ocean.
Killer Algae Found off California Coast
By Cat Lazaroff
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