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NEW MARINE ALIEN HAS LANDED

A picture of the black sea urchin newly found on the west coast of South Africa.

Recent surveys along the west coast of South Africa by Prof. Charles Griffiths (C·I·B core team member) and his team have revealed the presence of a new marine alien – the black sea urchin Tetrapygus niger.

This species appears to have been introduced along with oyster spat imported from Chile and is a well know ‘ecosystem engineer’ that has devastated kelp bed systems in other parts of the world where its populations have exploded. At present the population is restricted to a small site and it may still be possible to prevent its spread.

Tetrapygus niger (Molina, 1782) occurs along the temperate Pacific coast from northern Peru to the Strait of Magallanes in southern Chile. This species extends from the inter-tidal zone to a depth of 40 m.