Rapid Assessment Survey for exotic organisms in southern California bays and harbors, and abundance in port and non-port areas.
In recent decades, the world has witnessed an array of harmful invasions by exotic marine organisms. To provide the public and policymakers with better information on the status of exotic species in southern California waters, and to assess differences between port and non-port areas, a Rapid Assessment Survey of selected habitat types in sheltered waters between San Diego and Oxnard was conducted in the summer of 2000. The objectives included comparing the prevalence of exotic species among habitats and regions and between recent and past surveys; obtaining reference data for future assessments of changes in invasion status and the effectiveness of prevention or control efforts; detecting new invasions; and documenting significant range extensions. Twenty-two sites were sampled to include the three major commercial port areas in southern California, non-port-area marinas and lagoon sites. Sampling included dock fouling and adjacent soft-bottom benthos, nearby intertidal sites, and selected subtidal lagoon habitats. Samples were collected by a variety of manual techniques. Sixty-nine of the species collected are exotic, including representatives from two algal divisions and six invertebrate phyla. Ascidians are especially well-represented (14 exotic species) and widely occurring, and some bivalves and bryozoans also occur very widely. The numbers and proportions of exotic taxa were not significantly greater in port areas than in non-port areas.