Environment | Science

Invasive Marine Species Found Off Oregon Coast

OPB | May 13, 2010 10:22 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:08 a.m. | Portland, OR

Contributed By:

Beth Hyams By Beth Hyams

An invasive aquatic organism has been found off the coast of Oregon.

The species, called Didemnum vexillum, is on the state's most dangerous species list. So far, it's shown up in Winchester bay and Coos Bay.

Sam Chan is an invasive species specialist at Oregon State University.  He says the organism has been known to smother shellfish beds and to coat fishing nets and boats:

Sam Chan: "They tend to grow very fast. They're gelatinous, cellulose material. Think of it as a jelly or a jello that has some strength to it."

The species can spread quickly and reproduce asexually. It originated off the coast of Japan and was found in Puget Sound several years ago.

Right now, it hasn't grown to crisis level in Oregon, and officials are hopeful they can keep the organism in check.

To kill Didemnum vexillum, smothering, vacuuming, and bleaching sometimes prove successful.

But scientists don’t want to totally eradicate the species. It’s being studied for its anti-cancer properties.

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