USGS/NOAA - A colony of Didemnum (sea squirts) encrusts a mussel shell -- typical of the damage being caused by the invasive species in Cobscook Bay, Maine.
Thanks to the doggedness of a Cornell University marine biologist, researchers have discovered that one of Maine’s most important fishing areas has been invaded by an alien tunicate, or sea squirt, that could threaten the commercial fishing industry there.
A rapid assessment survey for marine invasive species in Cobscook Bay in August found a type of sea squirt -- Didemnum sp. -- that can damage ocean floor habitats and commercial species that live there. The survey was conceived and organized by Robin Hadlock Seeley, a visiting fellow in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell.
The invading sea squirt, first documented on the eastern coast of the United States in the 1970s and believed to be the byproduct of importing Japanese oysters for aquaculture, spreads rapidly by forming mats that look like blobs of pancake batter. It already has overrun some 40 square miles of Georges Bank, a prime offshore fishing area about 160 miles from outer Cape Cod.
Blaine Friedlander | EurekAlert!
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