Caulerpa taxifolia

Due to its fast-growing hardy nature, and attractive appearance, Caulerpa taxifolia is used as decorative saltwater aquarium plant. The aquarium strain of Caulerpa taxifolia is an extremely invasive seaweed that is currently infesting tens of thousands of acres in the Mediterranean Sea. Since 2000 it has now been found in two coastal water bodies in southern California. This "aquarium strain" tolerates colder water and grows more rapidly than the native strain. It  forms dense mats and can grow up to three inches per week on any surface at depths up to 100 feet.  These mats displace the native aquatic plants and animals that make our waters a rich and productive environment. It is now illegal to posses, sell, or transport Caulerpa taxifolia in California.

Signed into law in 2001,  the Assembly Bill 1334 (Harman), prohibits the possession, sale, and transport of Caulerpa taxifolia throughout California. This bill also establishes the same restrictions on several other species of the genus Caulerpa that are similar in appearance and are believed to have the ability to become invasive. San Diego also has adopted an ordinance banning the possession, sale, transport of the entire genus of Caulerpa within city limits. Furthermore the importation, interstate sale (including Internet sale), and transport of the Mediterranean strain(i.e., aquarium strain) of Caulerpa taxifolia is prohibited under the Federal Noxious Weed Act(1999) and the federal Plant Protection Act (2000)

NOAA Fisheries Service is a part of the Southern California Caulerpa Action Team, SCCAT, a committee established to respond quickly and effectively to the discovery of Caulerpa taxifolia in California. The group consists of representatives from local, state, and federal governmental entities, as well as private organizations. The goal of the SCCAT is to help protect California's vital marine habitats by completely eradicating all Caulerpa taxifolia infestations and prevent new infestations.  To date, there have been no new infestations in southern California since it was declared eradicated.

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)