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Students Identify New Invasive

Mar 13, 2013
Winter 2013

Students from South Portland drew the attention of scientists across the country this fall when they became the first to report that an infamous seaweed had washed ashore in Maine. 

“It’s just really cool to know that a bunch of kids in a marine biology class in high school discovered an invasive species,” said Hannah Gato, one of the students who identified the seaweed. “Now we can help do something about it.”

The students used GMRI’s Vital Signs website to map the location and share their evidence for Heterosiphonia japonica with species experts. Robin Hadlock Seeley from Cornell University’s Shoals Marine Lab teamed up with fellow Shoals faculty member Kathy Ann Miller from the University of California–Berkeley to confirm that the South Portland students had correctly identified the invasive seaweed. 

“These students used Vital Signs to turn their observation into an exciting and valuable contribution to scientific research on invasive species,” said Seeley, who has been a Vital Signs species expert since 2008. “The Vital Signs program is ideal for tracking Heterosiphonia. That’s a fact.”