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Marine scientists keep eye on slimy blob

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posted on Dec, 5 2005 @ 12:11 PM
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Marine scientists keep eye on slimy blob headed our way

A slew of goopy and gross sea creatures is making its way into or near Canadian waters, leaving a slimy trail that is menacing mussels and threatening rich fishing grounds.

Known as the tunicate, the unappealing sea life has slithered into waters around several provinces, including Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and British Columbia, fouling mussel farms and raising anxiety over future invasions.

One in particular — didemnum — is alarming marine biologists, who fear the species could get into Canadian waters and smother lucrative scallop beds under a pancake-like batter that chokes off life.

"It’s a pretty big problem," Judy Pederson, a marine biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said from Cambridge, Mass.

"Where it’s found, it can be very, very abundant because once it appears, it tends to spread pretty quickly."

A team of scientists scanned waters on the Canadian portion of the Georges Bank off southern Nova Scotia this past summer to see if the didemnum had spread from the U.S. section of the bank.

Page Valentine, who led the mission, said the tunicate infestation on the northern edge of the bank was limited to an area in American waters near the U.S.-Canada boundary, totalling 228 square kilometres.

But he warned that the Canadian portion could be next if the creature heads north into valuable fishing grounds and scallop beds.

"We expect areas in Canada near the boundary will be the most vulnerable if the tunicate spreads," said Valentine, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Woods Hole, Mass., who is analyzing the data to see if the tunicate could alter seabeds by forming a barrier between fish and their prey.

I didn't know anything about this stuff....

Looks real appetizing...


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