When an aggressive non-native species, Didemnum vexillum, showed up in Winchester Bay and Coos Bay last year, Oregon Sea Grant, the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and the Oregon Coast Aquarium went to work. Sea Grant Extension agents began educating communities about the threat. Divers began scouring harbors and inlets for this “colonial tunicate,” which is on the top-100 list of species to be kept out of Oregon. The animal fouls nets, crab traps, boats and marine facilities. The State of Washington has spent more than $1 million control it in Puget Sound.
If it gets a foothold in Oregon, it wouldn’t be the first invader. English ivy, non-native crayfish, New Zealand mudsnails and European green crabs are well-established here. Non-native species enter the state in cars, recreational boats, ships, airplanes and on the wind. As an Oregon Sea Grant educator and chair of the Oregon Invasive Species Council, Sam Chan coordinates efforts to identify threats and curb new infestations.
At the May 9 Corvallis Science Pub, Chan will discuss invasives in Oregon and in other states and the economic and environmental costs of managing them. He’ll provide updates on efforts to manage the pest that causes “sudden oak death” and several pathways for new species to enter the state: biology classes in schools and campgrounds and resorts that import firewood from as far away as Asia.
Science Pub takes place at the Old World Deli, 341 SW 2nd Street, the second Monday of each month from 6-8 pm. The talks are free and open to the public. Come early to get a good table and enjoy some food and drink before the program starts. If you can’t make it to the deli, Science Pub is also streamed live on the Web, courtesy of OSU’s Terra magazine.
Read more about Oregon Sea Grant’s efforts in invasive species education.