Thursday, October 13, 2005

Welcome to the Club

The recent discovery of two different non-native aquatic species in New Zealand waters has apparently thrown biosecurity officials for a loop. First came reports that the invasive alga known as didymo (Didymosphenia geminata, also known affectionately as "rock snot") was discovered in rivers at the northern part of the South Island. The ISW first reported about rock snot back in December 2004, when it was first discovered at the island's southern tip. Biosecurity New Zealand thinks the alga was introduced at least three years ago, and while they are instructing boaters on the best way to clean their equipment, they admit that the chances of eradicating didymo are small.

Now there are reports that New Zealand must contend with a new marine invader as well. According to this October 6th story from the National Business Review, an invertebrate known as the clubbed tunicate (Styela clava) has been found in two different harbors on the North Island (Note: the article mistakenly links to a US report about Didemnum, a completely different genus of sea squirt). A recent report from states that the tunicate has also been found on a boat at Picton, which is on the northern tip of New Zealand's South Island. Scientists are now scrambling to assess the extent of the invertebrate's spread. The TVNZ page has links to video clips of news reports that are critical of the government's response to the crises, following the revelation that BZN knew about the presence of the tunicates for a month before they reported it to the public.

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