Authorities in Almería attempt to kill off seaweed which threatens posidonia

Attempts are being made of the coast off the Cabo de Gata headland in the province of Almería (Andalucía) to prevent the spread of an invasive green seaweed species which goes by the scientific name of Caulerpa cylindracea.

The method being employed by the Junta (the regional government of Andalucía) essentially consists of placing a cover over a two ­square­ metre patch of the plant which has been found under the water at Los Escullos, in the natural park of Cabo de Gata­Níjar, the theory being that this will prevent photosynthesis from taking place and thus eradicate the invasive species.

Caulerpa cylindracea, known by some as “sea grapes” due to the appearance of its spherical sideshoots, was first detected off the coast of Almería in 2009 in areas which are classified as being of special importance within the Mediterranean Sea. Since then it has been found in five areas, some in the Cabo de Gata area and others in the reefs of Roquetas de Mar, suggesting that it is gradually spreading towards the west.

The patch of sea grapes at Los Escullos is seven metres under the surface, and was reported to the authorities by dive centres, but attempts to remove it manually were only partially successful, hence the need for the special device which was put in place on 26th May.

The cover is held down by rocks and sandbags, and progress will be closely monitored over the coming months in order to determine whether this is a viable means of combating the spread of the seaweed. An attempt was made in 2012 to eliminate another patch of sea grapes at a depth of 24 metres in the nearby area of Punta Javana, but these efforts proved unsuccessful when it transpired that the area affected was substantially larger than had originally been thought.


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