Newport Bay modeling tool applied to help track spread of invasive Caulerpa seaweed

Posted April 28, 2023

SCCWRP and its partners have adapted and applied a computer model that was recently developed for informing seagrass restoration efforts in Newport Bay to help managers track and eradicate an ongoing seaweed infestation in this coastal estuary.

The Newport Bay model predicts how and where the highly invasive Caulerpa species will proliferate, based on the dispersal of blades that break off the aquatic plant and regrow after being transported by tides and water circulation patterns. Preliminary findings were presented in April to the Newport Bay group that is working to eradicate Caulerpa.

Common in saltwater aquaria and native to tropic waters, Caulerpa grows rapidly and chokes out native seagrass once introduced to environments like Newport Bay, making eradication a complex management challenge. Unlike seagrass, Caulerpa is generally inedible to native aquatic life, which can trigger population declines.

The Newport Bay model was developed via a collaboration between SCCWRP and the University of Toulouse in France; researchers envision expanding the model to tackle a range of management challenges in coastal estuaries statewide.

More news related to: Climate Change, Eutrophication, Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia