Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Researchers Unveil 'Super Sucker' - New Alien Algae Removal Machine

Honolulu, Hawaii—April 11, 2006—Marine researchers in Hawaii have a new weapon in the battle against alien algae. They call it the “super sucker,” and it acts as an underwater vacuum cleaner to take invasive algae off the reef. Initials tests show it can remove up to 800 pounds in a single hour.

“The super sucker is potentially the difference between watching our reefs slowly succumb to alien algae and returning them to healthy productive ecosystems,” said Celia Smith, a professor and seaweed specialist in the University of Hawaii's Botany Department. “We’ve field tested this device and worked out the kinks, and I think we've established it’s a viable tool that can help us get a handle on the alien algae problem."

The new mechanical removal device has been fabricated and piloted in Kaneohe Bay, where it is operated by a small group of trained crewmembers from various partner agencies. The University of Hawaii, The Nature Conservancy, and the State Department of Land and Natural Resources / Division of Aquatic Resources are leading the effort.

The pilot project is one component of a larger strategy that includes community-based volunteer clean ups, the use of algae-eating native sea urchins, and the out planting of native algae to repopulate the reef. Local farmers are also involved, recycling the alien algae for use as a fertilizer to grow taro.

Read the rest here.

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