Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Magnetic North

The Dominion Post is reporting on what is most likely the inevitable spread of didymo algae (Didymosphenia geminata, also known as "rock snot") to the North Island of New Zealand. Didymo has been recorded all over the South Island since it first was spotted back in 2004. Now tests done on water from several North Island rivers show evidence of dead didymo cells present in the samples.

With dead cells there, can live ones be far behind? This seems to be more about detecting *when* and not *if* healthy didymo arrives on the North Island and starts to spread. Biosecurity New Zealand scientists sound like they are ready and waiting with a rapid response protocol that includes closing off impacted rivers and treating them with chelated copper. In the meantime, officials are asking anyone using the waterways to employ their own "Check, Clean, and Dry" protocol in an attempt to prevent didymo from spreading.

Thanks to Andrew B. for sending in a link to this story.


Anonymous said...

Just worth noting that follow up testing including more sensitive DNA analysis has failed to find live didymo cells. It is possible that the original was contaminated samples, or some other sort of cross contamination by the samplers. Good news if that is so, obviously a close watch is needed to be sure.

Anonymous said...

We were on South Island last month tramping Kepler Track & Milford Track. Saw abundant didymo on rock banks below Rainbow Bridge at end of Kepler.

We washed boots at start of Milford but couldn't see a boot cleaning station at Milford Bay end of Milford Track.

Whatever you do, it is really worth keeping it off North Island.