Invasive carpet seasquirt spreads rapidly on the Herne Bay coast
by Joe Walker
An ivasive sea creature known as “marine
vomit” is threatening to engulf the Herne Bay coast.
Carpet seasquirt – which spreads rapidly and
aggressively - has been discovered growing on boulders and reefs in
waters surrounding the town.
It is the first time the unsightly species has
been seen in the UK outside of harbours and marinas.
The seasquirt – believed to be native to Japan
– reproduces rapidly and can threaten other marine life, including
oysters and mussels.
The news has sparked fears the spongy creature
will cover huge parts of the Herne Bay coastline, with the
Environment Agency saying there’s no way of stopping it.
Environmental officer Ian Humpheryes said: “It
spreads so rapidly and aggressively. We can’t even look for its
natural predators because we don’t know what its home environment
“It should be living offshore, so the fact
it’s made its way to our beaches doesn’t bode well.
“Within two weeks it can spread from something
the size of a fingernail to a foot across.
“We’ve had invasive species before, but they
don’t grow as fast as this stuff. The sad thing is we have no idea
what we can do about it.”
The species – which spreads on dirty boat
hulls, fishing equipment and even floating seaweed – can destroy
shellfish like oysters and mussels.
But marine biologist Dr John Hayes, of
Reculver-based Seasalter Shellfish, says the company is playing a
He said: “It’s certainly cause for concern,
but we’ll need to wait and see what happens.
“If it proves to have no enemies then it’s
going to be a big problem, but hopefully something might come along
and eat it all up. All these sea squirts are a pain in the
For full story see this week's Herne
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