Death for the killer seaweed

4:49pm, April 8, 2003

Last month, researchers began a campaign to eradicate several dozen patches of rogue algae in a California lagoon (SN: 7/15/00, p. 36: Ultimate Sea Weed Loose in America). These Caulerpa taxifolia represent the same aggressive weed, an aquarium-derived mutant, that is smothering life along the Mediterranean seafloor.

Under the direction of state and federal regulators, biologists are carefully enclosing each stand of the lagoon's clones with a tarp and then pumping in chlorine. Patches the size of a person's hand should succumb to a few weeks of the chlorine bath, says Robert Hoffman of the National Marine Fisheries Service in Long Beach, Calif.

Routing the few far bigger patches could constitute a real challenge, he notes.

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