Invasive Organism Found in Oregon Waters

COOS BAY, Ore., May 14 (UPI) — An invasive organism native to Japan has been discovered in two Oregon bays and could cause serious economic and environmental damage, scientists said.

The aggressive organism “colonial tunicate” — Didemnum vexillum — recently was found in Winchester Bay and Coos Bay after being named to a list of “100 Worst Invasive Species to Keep out of Oregon,” researchers at Oregon State University said in a release Thursday.

The organism smothers shellfish beds and fouls fishing nets, water intakes and docks.

“This is not a welcome addition to our bays and now the clock is ticking,” said Sam Chan, an invasive species specialist from Oregon State.

The state of Washington has spent more than $850,000 managing the tunicate invasion since the organism was discovered in Puget Sound several years ago.

“We’re reviewing the literature for successful eradication projects on rocky outcrops or jetties, but we’re not finding a lot,” researcher Rick Boatner said. “This is new ground for Oregon, and we’ll have to be creative with our solutions.”

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