2 Invasive Species Found in S.C. Waters
The Associated Press
Tuesday, December 19, 2006; 8:29 PM
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Two new invasive species have recently been found along
the South Carolina coast _ a massive barnacle that dwarfs those found in the
state as well as the Asian green mussel, which reproduces quickly and can
pose a threat to floating docks.
The barnacle is native to the Pacific coast from southern California to
South America. It is so big, colonies have been known to sink navigational
buoys, slow boats and clog coastal water pipes.
The barnacle, the megabalanus coccopoma, was found by a College of
Charleston student doing research this fall on the Folly River. It
reproduces quickly, and, although only one has been found, scientists worry
it could spread.
"There's not a whole lot known about this guy," said David Knott, an
biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources who deals with
marine invasive species. "Cold water may be a barrier to it."
"This guy could cause a lot of problems just due to size alone," said Sam
Crickenberger, a senior marine biology major at the college who found the
barnacle. "And it's sharp."
The Asian green mussel was found in the Charleston area earlier this year.
It also reproduces quickly and can sink floating docks.
"Man, it's going to be crazy," said Larry Smith of Larry's Diving, who
cleans hulls. People who don't keep up boat maintenance "aren't going to be
able to move."
The new creatures are among the latest invasive species found in the state.
The invaders can be brought from other parts of the world in the ballast of
steamships or can drift in on plumes of warm water.
Scientists have identified nearly 40 invasive coastal aquatic invertebrate
species in the state.
While the state appears to be at the northern end of the range for many
tropical marine species, rising water and air temperatures could extend that
range farther north.
Knott said there may be no stopping invasive species, but that slowing the
spread is critical to preserving the state's coastal environment.
"If you look at the rate of introduced species, it's an exponential curve.
That's a cause of concern."