Invasive species known as ‘marine vomit’ found at Drakes Estero – Santa Rosa Press Democrat

A newly discovered invasive species capable of blanketing shallow bay bottoms has turned up in Drakes Estero in the Point Reyes National Seashore, prompting calls for immediate action to curb the biological threat and entering the debate over the future of the commercial oyster farm there. A fast-growing sea squirt, Didemnum vexillum, is actually thousands of tiny animals that cluster under a common membrane. It is called “marine vomit” for its unappealing gelatinous mass and has been likened to “the Blob” for its capacity to smother other organisms, possibly including the estero’s $1.5 million-a-year oyster crop and its abundant eelgrass beds. The dispute over the farm’s fate erupted about five years ago, and legislation by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein granted Interior Secretary Ken Salazar sole discretion to renew for 10 years the permit that expires Nov. 30.

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