WAILUKU, Hawaii — Invasive algae species could overtake the island of Molokai’s south shore if action is not taken to stop it, officials said.

The group of scientists and volunteers conducted a survey along more than 30 miles (48 kilometers) and 4 sq. miles (10 sq. kilometers) of island’s south shore to measure and map the three invasive algae species present on Molokai, which is between Oahu and Maui, the Maui News reported (http://bit.ly/2wdTMBk ).

They found that prickly seaweed covered 45 percent of the area surveyed. Gorilla ogo was found in 21 percent of the space, and hookweed in 10 percent.

“That was a good reality check for the community,” said wildlife biologist Arleone Dibben-Young, who presented a report on Oahu early July. “This is the first time we have an accurate picture of how bad it is.”

Experts believe the invasive algae species came to Hawaii via U.S warships and a fuel barge. The gorilla ogo was introduced to Hawaii for aquaculture research and to produce agar, which is used in cooking, for economic purposes.

The invasive algae are harmful to the natural environment and threaten marine industries, according to experts.

The invasive algae situation on Molokai is not much different than other places in Hawaii, but it could get worse if nothing is done, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said.

The algae on Molokai appears to be growing at a faster rate and are posing a greater threat to the coastline, Dibben-Young said.

The Nature Conservancy has offered to lend the community a super sucker that would pull the algae into a small pontoon barge. Community members also considering using biochar and composting to kill algae spores.

Organizers hope to start removal efforts next summer.

“Even though (the algae) is abundant and dense, it will be able to be removed, controlled and managed,” Dibben-Young said. “But it will take the community once again to be behind its removal and the long-term management of the coastline. This is a community project. We all have to do our part.”


Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com