Introducing Roddy Rock Snot!
Eewwww...did they say snot? Yes we did! In this case, the name actually describes this alien species and unfortunately, this is not the kind you can fix with a tissue. Rock snot is a freshwater diatom (a major group of algae) found in lakes, rivers and streams and prefers to grow in cold, clear waters. If it enters these streams, it can change the whole ecosystem. It can reduce the habitat of fish that prefer these clean streams and rivers, and can smother other organisms living in the area. Rock snot comes from northern North America (Vancouver Island) and northern Europe (Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, France, Spain, Switzerland). Scientists believe that rock snot has recently changed, or evolved, to become an invasive species in these areas, and has begun to spread in new locations including the western U.S. mainland British Columbia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. While it has not yet been sighted in Cape Breton, rock snot has moved into Quebec, and New Brunswick is currently on the alert!
So why should Cape Breton be concerned if it still seems so far away?
Well, it only takes ONE cell to start a whole new colony and result in the invasion of rock snot in a new area! Many fishermen move their boats and fishing gear between bodies of water, so if even one cell is still attached to their gear and they enter a new body of water, that whole body of water can be invaded by rock snot. Scary!
How do I spot Roddy Rock Snot?
- Color ranges from white to pale yellow-brown (rock snot is not green!!)
- Large single-celled diatoms (species of algae) - you would need a microscope to see single cells
- Form massive colonies and attach to aquatic plants or submerged rocks
- Has the texture of wet cotton or wool (imagine wearing a rock snot sweater...Ewww!)