Since the first nuclear power plant we've always known that some damn mutant thing was going to come along and mess us up. The recent surge in genetic engineering only widens the selection of horribly disfigured monstro-creatures that could come at us. There have been hundreds of movies warning us of new forms of life, and the interesting ways they'll want to kill us, but not even the lowest-budget of B-movies imagined the real threat - Seaweed!
Slightly less exciting than mutants throwing each other around with their minds, Caulerpa Taxifolia nonetheless presents a serious threat. No laser beams or spearing tentacles, all it does is grow and not die - but when you're invading an ecology that's all you need to do to win. It grows, so nothing else can grow, and it tastes awful, so nothing can eat it, and after a small period there's nothing in the area but vast fields of extremely boring seaweed. No marine life, no fishing industry, no tourism, no nothing - and when there's no real reason this can't just keep growing in important marine locations all over the world, that's a problem.
The worst thing is that it isn't even the cursed spawn of some top secret military experiment that offended God and man - nope, our seas could be throttled by fallout from a hobby. The ferocious fronds were specially engineered to grow fast, to not be eaten and to be hard to kill so that they could decorate aquariums worldwide - and all it takes is for one guy to get bored of "staring at fish" in his spare time and tip his tank down the toilet. Outbreaks have been detected in the waters of Spain, Croatia, Tunisia, California, Monaco and Australia.
California at least acted fast enough to control the threat, trapping huge fields of it under black tarpaulin and pumping in chlorine until it was all dead - because wrapping something in black tarp and pumping in chlorine will kill anything in the world up to and including a Predator that was raised in the woods by a flock of Terminators. The problem is this strategy can't be used large infections like those elsewhere on the globe. You can't even blow the stuff up - all you'll achieve is distributing fragments even further afield.
No one knows how to get this pest under control, but we can only hope someone manages it soon. Being murdered in the streets by rampaging killer beasts at least looks awesome, but having the ecology basically bored to death by a single replicating organism? No thanks.
Posted by Luke McKinney.
Link: Mutant seaweed http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=937
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