What are invasive species?
Invasive species are organisms that do not naturally occur in an area. They may also be referred to as "non-indigenous," but generally, the term "invasive" refers to species which have a potential to disrupt an ecosystem by outcompeting the naturally occurring organisms and altering the balance established by populations in a certain geographic region. Invasive species have caused major environmental and economic damage in many areas throughout the United States. Examples are zebra mussels (fresh water, Great Lakes) and Chinese mitten crabs (San Francisco Bay-Delta), which can severely clog intake pipes for water systems. An invasive alga, Caulerpa toxifola, has carpeted large areas of the Mediterranean Sea bottom and caused significant damage to the entire habitat and the fishing industry.Caulerpa taxifolia is also a potentially major threat to the southern California marine environment. Caulerpa was previously sold as a decorative plant in aquaria and can spread rapidly by fragmentation when aquaria are dumped. Two outbreaks in the early 2000s were successfully squelched after a large mobilization of resources by a consortium of public agencies and the private sector. The Port of Los Angeles is required to survey for Caulerpa before and after any water disturbing construction activities. Caulerpa has never been identified in Los Angeles Harbor.