BROWN, KR; WALTERS, LJ; GLARDON, CG; BLACK, MW; SACKS, PE; BEACH, KS; STAM, WT; OLSEN, JL; Univ. of Central Florida, Orlando; Univ. of Central Florida, Orlando; Univ. of Central Florida, Orlando; Univ. of Central Florida, Orlando; Winter Springs High School, Winter Springs; Univ. of Tampa, Tampa; Univ. of Groningen, The Netherlands; Univ. of Groningen, The Netherlands: Is the "Killer Alga" in Florida? Field Collections, Retail and E-Commerce Availability of Caulerpa in the Sunshine State

Since 1984, aquarium releases of Caulerpa taxifolia - Mediterranean strain have led to this “killer alga” becoming established in coastal waters in Europe, California and Australia. In all cases, ecological and economic costs have been astronomical. Because Florida’s climate, surface water temperatures and biodiversity are similar to previous invasion locations, we are presently collecting all native/non-native species of Caulerpa: 1) in Florida’s coastal waters, and 2) from retail and e-commerce distributors. DNA from all collected individuals is being sequenced to determine its origin. To date, Caulerpa has been collected from 36 field locations in central and south Florida. We have collected 11 species of Caulerpa, with C. racemosa and C. prolifera most frequently encountered. We have visited 28 local aquarium shops; 50% sold at least one species of Caulerpa either loose or attached to live rock. We have purchased Caulerpa via e-commerce from 33 sources: 56% of the purchases were from E-Bay, 19% were from commercial distributors in Florida, and 25% were from distributors from other states, most notable being California and Ohio. In summary, we have presently completed approximately 50% of our search grid. So far, no Caulerpa taxifolia (native or invasive) has been field-collected, purchased, or shipped to addresses within state boundaries.