All the stable substrates (rock, sand, silt, Posidonia meadows) can be colonized. All types of bottom, especially from 3to 40 m. can be invaded. Caulerpa taxifolia has even been observed in summer, alive and well established, though in lower density, as deep as -99m!
It is found both in good quality waters as well as in polluted harbours, on rocky headlands exposed to waves and in bays.
The spread of this permanent vegetal meadow continues from year to year until it covers all available bottom area. Gradually it dominates or eliminates other sea-weed or sea-grass (Posidonia oceanica meadows). The fauna populations too undergo profound changes, especially the sedentary (fixed on the bottom) species like sponges, gorgonians etc, as well as mobile fauna (e.g. sea urchins). This new dominant plant is not consumed by fish or marine invertebrates and thus does not constitute a replacement food which makes its ecological impact even more severe.
It is a beautiful fluorescent seaweed, with a characteristic "creeping" stem called the stolon. You can touch the seaweed without risk to yourself but harvesting or uprooting of the plant are delicate operations that should only be undertaken with proper authorization because any handling increases the risk of spreading and makes monitoring the contaminated areas increasingly difficult.
A fragment of the seaweed can survive for more than a week out of water in a warm, damp place (anchor-chain locker of boat, stowed fishing nets, scuba diving equipment bags). Once released again in the sea, the weed will start to develop and spread!
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