by Stephen Meno
Though you may have thought the sweltering heat was bad enough, our summer days at the beach may be accompanied by an odorous species of seaweed that resembles wet, matted hair called Heterosiphonia japonica. Native to Japan, this invasive plant is threatening beach ecosystems, wildlife habitats, and tourism revenues all over New England.
While it has troubled Massachusetts beaches for the past two summers, locals say this year’s bloom is out of control. Because of its ability to grow in either warm or cold water and multiply when cut, its rapid spread is covering much of the sea surface and blocking sunlight from native varieties of seaweed. Furthermore, it is destroying marine habitats and killing food sources for many different sea animals.