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Byron Shire
June 19, 2021

Oily slick on Belongil is marine blue green algae

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Byron resident David Griffith took this photo of what looked like a toxic spill on Belongil Creek at Childe Street.

A concerned resident sent Echonetdaily a photo of what appeared to be a nasty, toxic sludge he saw on Belongil Creek last Monday. Questions to council found that the oily looking slick on the water’s surface is in fact a naturally occurring marine blue green algae or Trichodesmium.

Staff investigated the slick this week and took samples which were sent off for testing.

Chloe Dowsett, Council’s Biodiversity and Sustainability Coordinator, said while the film on the top of the water looks terrible, it is a natural event and important for the marine environment.

‘Marine blue green algae is naturally occurring and travels down the coast with the east Australian current during the summer months,’ said Ms Dowsett.

‘It sometimes gets trapped in our coastal creeks and because of its appearance people often think it is an oil spill or something toxic,’ she said.

‘This algae is often slimy and smells and can vary in colour from red, brown, green or cream.’

People should avoid swimming and not eat shellfish in areas that are affected by the algae.


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