20.6 C
Byron Shire
December 2, 2021

Join the BioBlitz and discover aquatic mysteries

Latest News

A disappointed dog

It’s taken a whole week for my dog to read to page 21 in last week’s Echo. She’s been...

Other News

Govt delays action on holiday letting

The desperately-needed 90-day cap on un-hosted holiday letting promised to Byron locals by the State Government has become ensnared in a web of departmental obstructions and delays.

Byron Supper Club

Bryce Hallett The Byron Supper Club is set to return and transport audiences to a magical and exciting realm akin...

Calming Curry

Live music has been in short supply for a while, and like many other things you may not have...

Water security needed and that means we need to think beyond the traditional dam

As two professional engineers, each with over 40 years of experience in the water industry, we support Rous County Council’s decision to start tapping into underground water resources to meet the growing water supply needs of our region.

COVID update – Aquarius, Lismore sewage fragments and the South African variant

The Northern NSW Local Health District says there have been no new cases of COVID-19 reported in the 24 hours to 8pm 28 November, but, they are urging residents in the Lismore area to be alert for COVID-19 symptoms.

Kingscliff Public School gets long-awaited upgrade

If you were wondering what is happening at Kingscliff Public School, construction is well underway on an upgrade.

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.

Support The Echo

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


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Realistic, local agendas!

On Saturday 4 December we need to vote for people who focus on issues that can be controlled by Council. Candidates claiming they can,...

Coal shame for Queensland and Australian

Local Whitsundays resident Paul Jukes took action this morning against the continued development of the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine.

Wilsons River flood peak and flooding not expected for Tweed, Rouse, Brunswick River catchments

The prediction provided by the Bureau of Meteorology expects that locals around the Wilsons River at Lismore will see the river peak this afternoon at 4.20m. However, ‘Flooding is no longer expected in the Tweed, Rouse, Brunswick River catchments.

Vote for community

From 2007 to 2020, I lived in Byron Bay. I worked as a community-based coastal and marine researcher and writer. I wrote about this...