Gob Smacked

April 2012
Natural History;Apr2012, Vol. 120 Issue 4, p32
The article discusses the ecological impact of the sea squirt Didemnum vexillum whose colonies have taken over large areas of the sea bed. Smothering oyster and clam beds and covering structures such as pilings and boat hulls, the squirts' proliferation is a problem for fishermen whose nets, anchors, and traps become encrusted with the colonies, and whose daily scallop take in certain areas has been diminished by more than half. At the same time, the squirt sometimes acts as a barrier for protecting small animals from predators. To protect areas such as mussel beds from sea squirts, mitigation efforts have been tried including drying out docks, wrapping them in plastic and vacuuming them; using pressurized sea water to clean them, and using hydrogen peroxide to disinfect them.


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