Menu

Join the BioBlitz and discover aquatic mysteries

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.


One response to “Join the BioBlitz and discover aquatic mysteries”

  1. m gardner says:

    UPDATE Here is an abbreviated direct link to YourShore module to cut the search time out:
    https://goo.gl/Fmxr9f

    Here is the full link
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details…

    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)

    Aggregate
    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

Leave a Reply to m gardner Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers.