Caulerpa taxifolia

Single-celled seaweed

Clear warm water, a new home

Bottom drowned in green

Caulerpa taxifolia is a green seaweed that is a  champion of the salt water aquarium trade, being able to process high concentrations of animal waste products into benign compounds. It survives well under less than idea conditions that might be found in an aquarium. Because of this it has also been able to become established as one of the worst invasive species in the world. Since an accidental release by a public aquarium in the 80’s, Caulerpa has taken over vast patches of the Mediterranean sea. Caulerpa is protected by toxic terpenoid compounds that can be tolerated by very few marine herbivores. What happens when an eradication attempt breaks up the seaweed? Each piece that is torn off can itself grow into a new seaweed, making clean up attempts extremely tricky.

Caulerpa  are the worlds largest single-celled organisms and are amongst the largest cells of all organisms. A Caulerpa cell can top off at a meter in length. Compare that to a single human skin cell which is .00003 meters long.


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