(Host) Biologists have discovered a new invasive species in Vermont. And this one is a nuisance algae that infests river bottoms and can choke out aquatic life.
The algae is called “didymo” and it forms thick mats of cotton-like material in rivers and streams.
But it’s also known by a far more vivid term: “rock snot.”
Angela Shambaugh is an algae expert at the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
(Shambaugh) “It can be very yellowish, and long strands, so someone coined that very descriptive name.”
(Host) The didymo algae is believed to be native to northern Europe and Asia. Its recent discovery in the northern Connecticut River is the first time that it’s been seen in the northeastern United States.
Shambaugh says the algae forms thick mats that cover rocks and gravel. The organism can smother plants and harm the bug life that fish feed on.
(Shambaugh) “In some places it has been reported to cover as much as 100% of the stream bottom. And that make it kind of difficult for the local invertebrates to get around and possibly even find food sources.”
(Host) There are no known methods for getting rid of the algae. So the best defense is to stop its spread. Anglers and boaters can unknowingly spread the organism. One common way that it is carried from stream to stream is on the felt-bottom soles of the waders worn by fishermen.
Shambaugh is asking people who use the river to be especially vigilant. That means thoroughly drying clothing and equipment, or decontaminating the gear with very hot water or a mild bleach solution.