About Caulerpa

Description: Caulerpa taxifolia is bright green, with feathery, fern-like fronds that extend upward from a main stem.

Distribution: Caulerpa taxifolia is native to tropical waters, including the Caribbean, Indo-Pacific, and Red Sea. Infestations of the aquarium strain have been found in the Mediterranean Sea, Australia, and California.

Growth: The aquarium strain of Caulerpa taxifolia has the ability to form a dense carpet on any surface including rock,sand,and mud. It is capable of extremely rapid growth; up to one half inch per day(1.27 cm/day).

Depth: Caulerpa taxifolia can grow in shallow coastal lagoons as well as in deeper ocean waters, possibly to depths of greater than 150 feet (nearly 50 meters).

Ecological Risks: Plant and animal diversity and abundance are reduced where Caulerpa taxifolia has invaded. The aquarium strain has been documented to displace native vegetation, particularly seagrass beds, and become the dominant plant life.

Human Health Threat: There are no human health risks associated with Caulerpa taxifolia.

Natural Control: Outside the tropics where Caulerpa occurs naturally, there is no known marine life that eats Caulerpa taxifolia in any significant qualities.  Caulerpa taxifolia contains toxins that are distasteful to species that might feed on it

Protect our Waters

Aquarium water and other contents should never be emptied into or near any gutter, storm creek, lagoon, bay harbor or the ocean. Aquarium water should be disposed of only in a sink or toilet.  Rock and other solid material from an aquarium should be disposed of in a trash can. Caulerpa taxifolia from an aquarium (and anything it is attached to), should be placed in a plastic bag, put in a freezer for at least 24 hours, and then disposed of in a trash can. If any seaweed suspected to be Caulerpa taxifolia is found on fishing gear, anchoring gear, or vessels, it should be removed, carefully bagged(since even the smallest fragment has the potential to regenerate into a new plant) and reported.  In order to prevent new infestations and comply with the law, Caulerpa taxifolia should not be purchased sold or distributed.

Any sightings should be immediately reported to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife at 858.467.4218 (wpaznokas@dfg.ca.gov) or NOAA Fisheries at 562.980.4037 (Bryant.chesney@noaa.gov)