Invasive seaweed taking over Maple Bay

Invasive seaweed taking over Maple Bay

I call it the Evergreen of seaweeds because it’s huge, tall and has a million cone like balls

Invasive seaweed taking over Maple Bay

I’ve been snorkeling in Maple Bay for 15 years and have noticed some rather big changes which it occurred to me would not be apparent to those who don’t swim underwater.

There is a very large invasive seaweed called Sargassum (Japanese Wire Weed) that has marched its way out from Maple Bay almost to Sansum Narrows on the north side. I call it the Evergreen of seaweeds because it’s huge, tall and has a million cone like balls on the end of every little branch and these seeds get spread voluminously with every wave, kayak paddle etc. And towards the end of the summer it has pretty much blanketed in grey sediment — the fabulous variety of colourful seaweeds, coralline algaes etc. that we have in Maple Bay and I am so worried that it’s going to create a monoculture.

They are spreading so rapidly because of the huge numbers of seeds. Part of the reason I didn’t mention this before is because I couldn’t see a solution, but now I realize if people along the waterfront pull it out and replace it with eel grass, which is so marine species friendly, that would be a huge help in saving the wonderful diversity that’s present in Maple Bay.

There are so many fascinating things to see snorkeling in Maple Bay — varieties of fish, starfish, chitons etc. that will all be affected if the habitat becomes a monoculture. So much stands to be lost. I really feel it’s our duty to act and try and save what is a beautiful, pristine bay.

To find out more about planting eelgrass, the Cowichan Estuary Centre is running an eelgrass event in June.

Jennifer Lawson

Duncan