By CBSLA Staff

NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA) — After the discovery of an invasive algae in Newport Harbor, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has set up a site where people can report sightings.

(credit: California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

The algae is scientifically known as Caulerpa prolifera and is native to Florida and other subtropical and tropical areas. Caulerpa prolifera can grow quickly and choke out native seaweed, and potentially hurt marine life through lost habitat.

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The unusual patch of algae was discovered last month by a diver in the entrance channel area of Newport Harbor, according to Newport Beach city officials. It was identified by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which then alerted other agencies.

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(credit: California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Authorities are working to determine the extent of the infestation in Newport Bay.

Caulerpa prolifera poses no danger to humans, however, authorities say the public should avoid contact with it because it has the ability to easily recolonize from just tiny fragments.

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People who have seen this invasive algae can email AskMarine@wildlife.ca.gov with a location, description and photograph, or submit that information through a form from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. However, people are urged not to collect specimens to prevent further spread.