Fishermen came across a strange ‘catch’ in their nets off La Rábita on Wednesday – a mass of seaweed looking like a kind normally found in the Pacific.
If so, this seaweed has the Latin name of Rugulopteryx Okamurae, named after a Japanese phycologist (expert in seaweed). It was first found off the coast of France in 2002 and has since then made an appearance in the Gibraltar Straits and is considered an invasive species that is causing quite a problem.
Following this find off the Costa Tropical some 250 metres down, researchers at the University of Granada are analysing the seaweed to ascertain that it is what it appears to be. However, there have been other finds in shallower waters and in the same area on the 4th of this months at 180 metres, whilst off Adra fishing boats found it at only 70 metres in depth.
Motril fishermen are very concerned because their colleagues in Cádiz are already battling against its affects, which are very damaging to the marine ecosystem, owing to its rapid growth rate and displacement of existing seaweed species.
The problem is that when small fishing boats haul up large quantities in their nets, they have no room for it onboard, so it is dumped back in, and as it is now not anchored to the seabed, it will end up on beaches. Even if they did have room for it, there is nowhere to dispose of it. (See photo opposite of a beach in Cádiz.)
So, we are now waiting for the university to confirm what kind of seaweed it is, and if it is this Asian seaweed, then the administration can start allocating funds for special disposal containers to be installed in Motril Port, amongst other measures.
(News: Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia)