Exotic Form of Fast-Growing Seaweed Invades San Francisco Bay

Science

A fast-growing kelp from the Far East has spread along the California coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco Bay, worrying marine scientists and outpacing eradication efforts.

In May, scientists for the first time found the invasive seaweed called Undaria pinnatifida clinging to docks at a yacht harbor in San Francisco Bay, fouling boat hulls and pier pilings.

"I was walking in San Francisco Marina, and that's when I saw the kelp attached to a boat," said Chela Zabin, a biologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Tiburon, Calif.

"It was 6-foot long, and there is nothing here in the bay that gets to that size," Zabin said. "I didn't want to believe what it was, it's depressing," The Associated Press reports.

Steve Lonhart, a senior scientist and diver from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, has been battling the invasion in the bay since the alien kelp species was discovered on boat hulls in the San Francisco marina in May.

"It's still there and no one thinks it will be completely eradicated, but hopefully we can keep it from spreading," said Lonhart as he put on scuba gear before his first dive, reports San Francisco Chronicle.