Recently scientists have discovered presence of several colonies of an invasive species of snowflake coral (Carijoa riisei) off the coast of Thiruvananthapuram and Kanyakumari.
They were discovered at 10 metre depth off Kovalam (Thiruvananthapuram) and 18 metre depth off Enayam (Kanyakumari). Scientists have noted that these fast-growing alien species could pose a serious threat to the marine ecology of the region.
About Snowflake Corals
- The snowflake coral is native of the tropical Western Atlantic and Caribbean. For first in 1972 it was reported as an invasive species from Hawaii. Since then, it has spread to countries like Australia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
- It is considered an invasive species because it has capacity to dominate space and crowd out other marine organisms.
- It is known to inhabit reefs and underwater structures such as piers and shipwreck. It can also attach itself to metal, concrete and even plastic.
- In India, it has been reported from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gulf of Mannar (Tamil Nadu), Gulf of Kutch (Gujarat) and Goa.
- As it has capacity to thickly settle and occupy a variety of surfaces it can destabilise the marine ecosystem.
- It can crowd out other marine species like corals, algae, sponges, ascidians that are mainly contributing to the rich marine biodiversity of the region.