New Potential Invasive Species

Reposted from CZMU email correspondence

There has been growing recent concern surrounding the potential of a new invasive species making its way around the region. Unomia stolonifera is usually found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans but it has been confirmed to be present in Venezuela, Cuba and Hawaii with suspected cases recently reported in Puerto Rico. The new report signals the potential for the species to be spread more widely across the region. 

The soft coral is identified by colonies of polyps all with a central opening surrounded by 8 tentacles (see attached). The polyps grow on a stalk with an unusually large number of polyps also growing from the side. This soft coral is also known for its ability to reproduce quickly and outcompete native corals, ultimately smothering and displacing them.As a threat that has the potential to further stress our local coral reef ecosystems, we are asking you to assist in reporting any suspected cases of the soft coral.

If spotted, the corals should be left undisturbed, and reporting should be prioritised. Anyone encountering the species should submit a GPS coordinate/location of the specimen along with a photograph to the CZMU by emailing Shoneé Howell at [email protected]

In cases where contact is made with the octocoral, there is the potential for it to be spread by gear. Therefore, it is asked that decontamination procedures are undertaken to prevent its spread. This includes soaking gear in freshwater for 5 mins. 

Further information on the octocoral can be found using the link below: 

Please feel free to share these resources with customers and friends alike in efforts to spread awareness.  

The CZMU will continue to periodically offer updates as new information comes to light.