An Aggressive Algae of Unknown Origin Is Smothering Hawaii’s Coral Reefs

The coral walls of Hawaii have got their hands on the problem. A new invasive species of algae have been found growing on the coral walls of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument; the U.S. National Monument contains 1.51 million square kilometers (583,000 square miles) of seawater containing many rare species of corals, fish, birds, reptiles, and reptiles.

Scientists have never seen anything here before and they are unsure where the algae came from. Nevertheless, this red seaweed has already captured entire coral reefs in the region since its first discovery in 2016.

Heather Spaldin, study author and assistant professor of biology and the College of Charleston, said in a statement, “It’s a highly destructive beach with the potential to further expand the entire reef.” “We need to find out where it is now and what we can do to handle it. This type of research requires trained divers in the water as soon as possible. The sooner we can get back to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Memorial, the better. “

The marine biologist at the University of Hawaii at Charlotte’s College Manoa and the newly named Chondria tumulosa algae from NOAA describe it, Reported in the journal PLOS One. A series of dives around Pearl and Hermes Atoll revealed that the algae had spread to a depth of about 10 to 15 meters (33 to 50 feet) where it formed an 18-centimeter (7-inch) thick ridge reminiscent of a reef. A multidimensional analysis has shown that invasive seaweed is not closely related to any known Hawaiian native species, which generally live in harmony with the coral style. However, it remains unclear whether it is an invasive species brought to the area from elsewhere.

If the invading marine wears a coral, it blocks out sunlight, which means that the unicellular zoo that lives in their cells and is unable to photosynthesize by feeding them. The coral suffocates and dies of starvation, as a result. In marine ecosystems, it could have a more widespread knockout effect because reefs have a single range of other marine life.

Once an invasive species like algae take over the marine ecosystem, there is no direct way forward to reverse the change. So, for now, researchers have assured tenterhooks that they are doing their best to prevent the species from spreading to other marine areas.

Randall Kosaki, NOAA research coordinator at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument said, “Unless we understand that it is indigenous or introduced, and unless we understand better that we are driving this outbreak, research diversification and research ships may not unknowingly take this species to another island, which is critically important.” He added, “All our dive gears were soaked in bleach, and all our dive boats were sprayed with bleach before returning to Honolulu.”