Residents should avoid mysterious brown sludge
RESIDENTS should steer clear of a mysterious brown sludge which has appeared along the Clarence Coast.
The Daily Examiner was alerted of the substance, which had washed up at Turners Beach in Yamba, by residents concerned it was a pollutant.
We sent the photos to University of Technology Sydney Chancellors Post Doctoral Research Fellow Dr Penelope Ajani - an expert on marine phytoplankton - to examine.
While a microscope would be required to correctly identify the sludge, she quickly ruled out a natural phenomenon, such as coral spores or algal blooms.
"This should be reported as a pollution event," Dr Ajani told The Daily Examiner.
"I've never seen an algal bloom that looks like that.
"It looks too thick and brown to be an algal bloom.
"I can't rule it out completely. We do suggest that nobody should come in contact with any discoloured water from a cautionary perspective until local authorities confirm the identity of the substance."
Dr Ajani recently commented on another mysterious substance discovered at Illaroo Beach about 50km south of Yamba.
On that occasion she identified the 'brown goo' as an algal bloom, possibly trichodesmium which is commonly known as "sea sawdust".
"It looked a bit speckly, and at this time of year the East Australian Current does bring down sea sawdust," she said. "It has a grainy, speckledy appearance on the ocean.
"It's a completely harmless tropical species which comes down as far as Sydney when the current is most intense over these summer months."