Kappaphycus Alvarezii

Facts for Prelims

Kappaphycus Alvarezii

News: It is in news due to dead corals observed near Kurusadai (Tamil Nadu), one of the 21 uninhabited islands forming the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park. The primary reason behind this loss is Kappaphycus alvarezii, a seaweed (Alga) deliberately introduced for commercial cultivation some two decades ago.

 Kappaphycus species are among the largest tropical red algae, with a high growth rate (can double in biomass in 15 to 30 days).
 The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists it as one of the world’s 100 most invasive species.
 National research institutes and companies are for increased cultivation of Kappaphycus to improve livelihoods, profits and to reduce India’s import of kappa-carrageenan, a polysaccharide extracted from the alga that finds use in industrial gums and as a smoothening agent in ice cream, toothpaste, jellies, medicines and paint.

Impact of Kappaphycus Alvarezii:
 The Kappaphycus alvarezii seaweed species has invaded six of the 21 islands of the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park in Tamil Nadu and has killed the corals near Kurusadai.
 It has also caused considerable damage to Coconut Island in Hawaii, Cubagua Island in Venezuela, Zanzibar in Tanzania, and Almirante and Cristobal in Panama and Costa Rica.
 The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Kappaphycus alvarezii as one of the world’s 100 most invasive species. 

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