Apex Park boat ramp seagrass issues resolved

THE planned improvements at Apex Park boat ramp including new berthing areas on the boardwalk side are one step closer.

A spokesperson for Eurobodalla Shire Council said the seagrass issues had now been resolved for the project and council was now seeking the additional funding from the NSW Government to enable the project to go ahead.

Council has been working with Marine Parks on the issue of the impact of any new structures on the seagrass.

The Narooma News meanwhile received some correspondence about the health of the seagrass adjacent to the Narooma boardwalk just upstream from the Apex Park boat ramp.

Local resident Marlene Hunt, who happens to the mother of inaugural MasterChef winner Julie Goodwin, was walking along the boardwalk last week when she was shocked to see a brown hairy growth perhaps algae covering almost everything.

“The sea grass meadow which was on the right in shallow water near the boats shed end of the boardwalk are all dead and completely covered in what appears to be an aggressive algae,” she said.

“All rocks, oysters, seaweed, hermit crab shells, almost everything is covered in the brow hairy growth.

“In the deeper area closer to the fish cleaning end of the boardwalk I could see some sea grass that did not appear to be affected but this was minimal.

“It has been less than 3 months since I walked the boardwalk and at that time I did not see any of this growth. It could be a seasonal thing but it has definitely killed a large area of sea grass so I would very much like to know if this is a pest or a safe natural phenomenon.

“It seems to be worse in the shallows nearer to the boat shed end, to the right and left of the boardwalk.”

Narooma Oyster Grower David Maidment said coming out of winter as the water warms and nutrient levels increase, there were seasonal spikes in marine algae.

“Some of these are the invisible and can be toxic to humans if ingested in oysters etc that can absorb them when feeding,” he said.

“Others like the filament type one you describe often occur coming out of winter and can have a smothering effect eg shading seagrass which needs light to grow and survive.

“In the past oyster farms using shade cloth over seagrass areas we used to notice a loss or reduction in seagrass coverage. New cultivation practices have eliminated this.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Primary Industry that now included Marine Parks NSW said without a sample but based on the description, it is suggested it's a naturally occurring algae, possibly Chaetomorpha.

There are a number of different species of filamentous algae that all grow together.

“Chaetomorpha grows through winter each year. It generally inhabits low depths and has a consistency of very fine wool. Can be brown, green or a combination of colours,” the spokesperson said.

“It’s not harmful and doesn't kill the seagrass - they can deal with the algae growing over and around it. The algae normally dies off as the water temperature gets warmer.”

The Australian Museum supplies some information: http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/chaetomorpha

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