December 23, 2012

Invasive seaweed spreads along New England coast

By CLARKE CANFIELD, The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

This 2011 photo, provided by Matthew Bracken of the Northeastern University Marine Science Center, shows red Asian seaweed, Heterosiphonia japonica, off the coast of Nahant, Mass. The fast-growing, fast-spreading seaweed, first discovered in New England on a Rhode Island beach in 2009, has spread north to Maine and south to New York.


PORTLAND — A fast-growing, fast-spreading Asian seaweed that's crowded out native species, fouled beaches and made a mess of lobster traps in Massachusetts has spread north to Maine and south to New York.

First discovered in the U.S. on a Rhode Island beach three years ago, the seaweed doesn't pose a public health threat but can create a stinky muddle as it did earlier this year when it washed onto beaches in Massachusetts. The plant gives off a putrid odor when it dries and decays.

The red seaweed has been sighted in Connecticut and New Hampshire, and also was seen this summer in Cape Elizabeth along the Maine shore.

Northeastern University biologist Matt Bracken says he wouldn't be surprised if the plant has already made its way to Canada.

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