Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) June 17, 2009 -- It looks ghastly, feels okay, but the single cell algae, by the name of 'Rock Snot', is threatening to destroy the key fishing spots of the world. Didymosphenia geminate, (Didymo) is a fast blooming algae that thrives in cold nutrient-poor waters. Clinging to the bottom of the bed, Didymo can be found in rivers, streams and lakes.
It is able to totally cover a river bottom from bank to bank, killing worms, stone flies and other organisms trout and other sport fish live off. Didymo seems to have changed into a more aggressive species, over the past twenty years and is spreading into the major fishing rivers of the world.
The thick mats area able to clog water intakes, but does not appear to be harmful to people. Resembling wet toilet paper, the long gooey, tan, gray and brown mass is an unsightly sludge, yet it is not slimy to feel. It does not easily broken apart.
Didymo was found in the South Island of New Zealand, in 2004 in regions where it had never been found before. Scientists believe it has been piggybacked there on the soles of fisherman's waders. The bloom has already spread to over 120 rivers in the South Island. Some streams turned into nothing more than sludge pits and fish populations have been severely reduced.
In an effort to halt the invasive algae from spreading into the North Island rivers, Fish and Game New Zealand have banned the use of felt-sole waders, with a punishment of up to five years imprisonment for any deliberate contamination of a stream.
"Among the traits of the microorganism it has an ability to survive outside water for a day or more", says Sarah A Spaulding, ecologist with the United States Geological Survey in Boulder, Colorado, "Making it easy for anglers to transport it as they move from river to river". She believes it is not enough know about Didymo it is important to find out whether or not the recent geographic spread and more aggressive behavior, have been caused by environmental changes, genetic mutations, or are part of a natural cycle that has never been observed before.
Manufacturers were pushed into producing rubber-sole waders to counteract the effect of the felt-soled algae carrying wader.
Fishermen are being warned that they could be the carriers of what will eventually sound the death knoll to their sport if the warnings go unheeded.
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