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Byron Shire
November 29, 2023

Join the BioBlitz and discover aquatic mysteries

Latest News

New wave of antisocial behaviour hits SGB

Drug use, fights, vandalism, destruction of property, and violent intimidation of locals sitting in their homes.

Other News

Ballina rally against domestic violence this Friday

Police and Rotarians are inviting people on the Northern Rivers to wear purple and join them in speaking out against domestic violence this Friday in Ballina.

From the Deep South to the Far North

A Message from Tasmania: ‘If you care about what you eat, be careful what you buy.’ A campaign to protect some of Australia’s most pristine waterways from industrial destruction is being launched nationally at the Brunswick Picture House on Friday evening at a live music and video event.

Dangerously Poetic launches ‘Paper People’

Dangerously Poetic Press is launching their 16th publication, Paper People, by Kathryn Boorman. 

Water restrictions delayed across Lismore, Ballina, Richmond Valley and Byron Shires

November rains have delayed activation of Level 1 water restrictions for the region, say water utility Rous County Council.

Youth-focused jobs pathway on offer 

An innovative youth-focused program, in collaboration with Byron Community College and Byron Youth Service (BYS) is set to launch in 2024, and aims to guide and empower school leavers to find their path and purpose.

Comment closes today on DA for former Pacific Pines Development Site at Broadwater

A Development Application for the historic ‘Pacific Pines’ site at Boundary Creek in Broadwater is currently ‘on exhibition’ with Richmond Valley Council and locals have raised concerns over the development of the site due to its significant historical flooding. 

Photo Mary Gardner.

Mary Gardner

On May 12 (low tide 11.36 am), take a few minutes and help track down the elusive mysterious highly prized wild shellfish reefs and beds somewhere near you.  Whether you are on the coast from the Brunswick to the Richmond, or along any waterway large or small going inland, use the free phone app to photograph any oysters, mussels, pipi, clams and burrowing clams you find. It’s our region’s First Wild Shellfish BioBlitz.

This Shellfish BioBlitz is an aquatic variation of the 24-hour wildlife censuses all done by volunteers. The first census was 1996 in the United States. Now, BioBlitzes are popular all around the world because citizens and specialists are equally thrilled with the discoveries made.

In this region, the Wild Shellfish BioBlitz might solve some longstanding critical mysteries. The first is the Curious Case of the Last Refuges. Once the coast and waterways of this region held millions of wild shellfish: three species of oysters, six species of freshwater mussels and one marine, at least several freshwater clam species plus five marine. Since the 1800s, these shellfish experienced large prolonged harvests, drastically changed conditions on land and in the water as well as pollution of every sort. Today, where are the survivors? There must be at least a few somewhere.

Another is the Mystery of the Missing Oyster Species. So many stories float around this region about the flat oyster also known as the mud oyster Ostrea angasi. These are similar to the highly prized European Ostrea edulis now also grown in the United States. There is only single known wild flat oyster reef in Tasmania. The species is of special interest to the global gourmet market. Is there any truth to the anecdotes about flat oysters in our region?

What about The Adventure of the Leaf Oysters? They were seen attached to mangrove trees, aerial roots and spreading across the muddy surfaces. That’s how these Isognomos ephippium are also called tree oysters. Where are they?

Of great cultural and historical significance is The Adventure of the Burrowing Clams. These Teredinidae should be found in submerged deadwood in coastal wetlands and intermittenly closed and open lakes and lagoons (ICOLLs). Aboriginal people of the east coast cultivated their favourite species. They carried the long thin animals from one place to the next, inoculating submerged logs of dead Causarina (she-oaks).

As a courtesy, Aboriginal people in this region offered burrowing clams as delicacies to visitors. They sent them as gifts to as far south as the land of Eora (now Sydney). British colonialists disparaged them as ‘mangrove worms’ and refused to eat them. But other settlers around the world prize them as ‘long oysters’. So where are any burrowing clams? 

The Problem of the Pipi is one repeated all along the east Australian coast since the 1800s. For millennia, Aboriginal people prized these surf clams Donax deltoides as food. They collected the shells in middens metres high and kilometres long, using these as caches for tools and special items as well as burial sites.

Here from 1880s to 1970s, pipi endured the tailings of gold mining and the brute force of sand mining. They were crushed by vehicles driven across beaches. Rock walls eroded the soft sands they needed. Finally, they were subjected to heavy harvesting, an activity without quotas until 2007. In 2018, where are any pipi?

The last mystery About The Rare Word is one a little outside of our region. The Aboriginal word Yamba means abalone. Does anyone know of the whereabouts or anecdotes about this prized shellfish from around the Clarence or anywhere further north?

So these are just six mysteries of the aquatic world around us. Collect your family and friends and join the BioBlitz. Together, we might find a few more clues.

♦ Sign up for Wild Shellfish BioBlitz by emailing: [email protected] for links to download the FAIMS app.

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Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. UPDATE Here is an abbreviated direct link to YourShore module to cut the search time out:

    Here is the full link

    If you have an iphone, take a pix and send to [email protected]
    here’s the phone app info you can fill out and take photos. Please send to:: [email protected] with as much as you can answer from the checklist ( which is what the android app sorts for you)

    Trip Data
    1. Name 2. Date 3. Time 4. Subregion 5. GPS location

    Shoreline attributes
    1. Natural (Mudflat, Sandy beach, Saltmarsh, Rocky shore, Mangrove)
    Artificial (Concrete, Sea wall, Large rocks, Gravel, Wood pier)
    2. Habitat photos
    3. Animals present (Attached shellfish- oysters/mussels; other shellfish- clams/ pippis; seabirds; shorebirds- waders; fish; crabs; worms)
    4. Road/asphalt nearby
    5. Water outflows (>1; 1; 0)
    6. Shoreline slope (45deg)

    1.. Shellfish Type & Species (Sydney Rock, Pacific, Flat, Blue Mussell)
    2. Species photo
    3. Primary substrate (eg saltmarsh)
    4. Surrounding substrate (eg sandy beach)
    5. Shellfish status (mostly alive or mostly dead)
    6. Distance to water (under water; 1m; 1-5m; >5m)
    7. Size of aggregation (Small 50)
    8. Aggregate photo


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Youth wellness app launched Nov 30

A free wellbeing app for young people, developed by young local Indigenous people on the Northern Rivers, is being launched this Thursday, November 30 at the M-Arts in Murwillumbah from 5pm.

Mandy Nolans Soapbox: Climate is About People

What scares you more? The impact of warming by 1.5 degrees that results in drought, famine, heat stress, species die-off, loss of entire ecosystems and habitable land and 100 million people being thrown into poverty? Or a hundred or so activists in a kayak?

Turning eight at the Nudge

Saturday is the day for you to arrive early and stay late! Cunning Stunts’ Nudge Nudge Wink Wink: The Ultimate Party with a Conscience is turning 8!   Eight performances will dazzle on this date, filled with bangers all day long for you to dance and gyrate to fromt their magical birthday line up – we can’t wait!  Guest DJs: Iain Yes, James Scott, Rahel, Lady S, and Miss L, join the awesome resident DJs, Lord Sut and Dale Stephen + live performances by The Hoodlum Ballet, all curated for you to celebrate.

Interview with Robyn Davidson, author of the international bestseller Tracks

Byron Writers Festival is thrilled to present Robyn Davidson, author of the international bestseller Tracks, for an intimate conversation with Zacharey Jane about her memoir Unfinished Woman.