Japanese Delicacy Invades San Francisco Bay

Non-native kelp makes marine biologists yelp for help

By Jackson West
|  Wednesday, Jul 8, 2009  |  Updated 1:30 PM PDT
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Japanese Delicacy Invades San Francisco Bay

Gary Soup

Wakame may be on the menu at the Ferry Plaza, but it's on the hit list of local marine biologists.

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Just a few piers down from Delica RF-1 at the Ferry Plaza, which serves a mean wakame salad, the kelp from which the dish is made has been found in San Francisco Bay.

But before foodies rejoice at the arrival of this edible seaweed, now available through hypertrendy locavore foraging, beware: The plant is a non-native species considered particularly invasive by marine biologists.

It has already choked coastal waters in southern California, but until recently had only been spotted as far north at Monterey Bay.

It serves to displace the native bull kelp, which serves as habitat to hundreds of local species, from otters to abalone.

That said, if you want some in your miso soup, it's unlikely boaters and biologists would mind if you were to help keep the population in check by doing a little underwater weeding.

Photo by Gary Soup.

Jackson West wonders where Gojira is when you need him to save us all from an environmental catastrophe.

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