Kappaphycus alvarezii seaweed spreads to coral reef areas in Valai island in GoM

The invasive Kappaphycus alvarezii seaweed, which smothers and kills coral reefs, has spread its wings to coral reef areas in Valai island in the Gulf of Mannar (GoM) and set to invade new coral colonies in the marine national park. Macrofaunal and fish density decreased when Kappaphycus cover increased.
After invading Shingle, Kurusadai and Mulli islands in Mandapam cluster of the GoM, the red algae invaded Valai island along Kilakarai coast following its cultivation in south Palk Bay. 

In the report submitted to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFC) by the Reef Research Team (RRT) of Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute (SDMRI), Thoothukudi, said that the destructive algae had invaded the reef areas of Valai Island, Palk Bay Gulf of Munnar. The research team counted 32 coral colonies of Acropora nobilis affected by Kappaphycus algae. The team said that the algae was firmly attached to the coral colonies and started forming a mat over them. It would eventually smother and kill corals.

Steps taken:
A 2005 Government Order had restricted cultivation of the exotic seaweed only to the seawaters north of the Palk Bay and South of Thoothukudi coast.
The Forest department is to take up the issue with agencies, which promoted the cultivation of the seaweed. The department had been carrying out manual removal of the seaweed every year since 2014 to protect coral reefs.

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