Thursday, September 29, 2011

September 29, 2011

Invasive sea squirt puts Connecticut's shellfish sector on alert

By Natalia Real

The invasive sea squirt Styela clava has appeared along the Eastern Seaboard and is threatening Connecticut’s USD 30 million shellfish business, informed Carmela Cuomo, head of the marine biology programme at the University of New Haven (UNH).

The migration of the foreign pest southward from Canada and northern New England jeopardizes the farming of bivalves such as clams, mussels, scallops and oysters in Long Island Sound.

Connecticut’s shellfish industry provides 300 jobs and has 70,000 ac of shellfish farms, according to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.

“The spread of this particular species of sea squirt westward in Long Island Sound, along with laboratory studies of its temperature tolerance, indicates it can survive at higher water temperatures than scientists had previously believed,” Cuomo said. “If further testing confirms that Styela can reproduce in warmer waters, Styela may pose a greater threat than has previously been imagined and may even be able to spread as far south as Florida.” ...

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