Angela Gorczyca

Halting Rock Snot: Protecting the Raritan Watershed from Didymo Algae

"Didymosphenia geminata, commonly known as didymo, is an invasive algae species that forms extensive mats in streams, rivers and other freshwater systems. Its blooms pose a major threat to the Raritan River watershed because the headwaters streams are its ideal habitat: clean, cold, low-nutrient streams that are used by trout. Discovered in New Jersey in 2012 in Sussex County, didymo is spread mainly through the use of recreational equipment: fishing gear (particularly felt-soled waders), kayaks, boats, etc. Thick mats of didymo can smother the riverbed, dramatically altering the physical and biological conditions within a stream. Furthermore, the habitat for the benthic macroinvertebrates, which make up the base of the food chain in streams, is no longer available for shelter, food, or reproduction.

This habitat and water protection project will mobilize a team of volunteers from diverse communities to educate recreational users of local water bodies about the threat of didymo and how to prevent its spread. Working in partnership with local governments, recreation and sporting groups, and other watershed organizations, project leaders will prepare and disseminate informational tools, train volunteers in conservation strategies, and conduct community outreach activities during the spring and summer fishing season. They will also identify locations at high risk of didymo spread and educate boating and fishing enthusiasts on how to recognize didymo and take action to reduce the impact of its spread."

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