Continued expansion of the trans-Atlantic invasive marine angiosperm Halophila stipulacea in the Eastern Caribbean
Halophila stipulacea (Hydrocharitaceae) is reported for the first time from Aruba, Curaçao, Grenadines (Grenada), St. Eustatius, St. John (US Virgin Islands), St. Martin (France), and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, bringing the total number of known occurrences from eastern Caribbean islands to 19. Native to the Red Sea and western Indian Ocean, H. stipulacea spread to the Mediterranean Sea in the late 1800s and became established in the eastern Caribbean in 2002. The species has dispersed north and south of its first sighting in Grenada and now spans a latitudinal distance of 6° (>700 km), most likely facilitated by a combination of commercial and recreational boat traffic. The continuing range expansion of H. stipulacea indicates the species has successfully acclimated to surviving in the Caribbean environment, warranting further investigation into its ecological interactions with the indigenous seagrasses.