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Climate and Environment

Crews Clean Up Invasive Algae — Caulerpa prolifera — From Newport Beach Coast

An image of green algae underwater.
This invasive algae threatens ocean biodiversity and can destabilize coastlines.
(Courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife)
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A group of divers have removed a large patch of invasive algae off the coast of Newport Beach. They've been working for weeks to get rid of the invasive seaweed known as Caulerpa prolifera.

Katie Nichols with Orange County Coastkeeper, one of the organizations involved in the removal, says the seaweed spreads rapidly and threatens the ocean's biodiversity.

"There's spiny lobster, there's round rays, there's all kinds of barred sand bass and all of these things that utilize this habitat that would look entirely different if it were just this patch of this other algae," said Nichols.

That's because the algae interferes with the growth of eelgrass, which all those marine creatures need to survive. Eelgrass also stabilizes the shoreline.

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Close up shot of algae.
(California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Divers finished removing the initial patch from Newport Beach's China Cove in mid-July and are now surveying the water north of that location in case it's spread all the way up there.

No one knows yet where this patch came from, although you'll commonly see this seaweed in fish tanks. Anyone who sees a patch on the water should report their sighting to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

What questions do you have about Southern California?