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Beaches awash with seaweed at Byron Bay

WASHED UP: Cornflake seaweed covers Belongil Beach.
WASHED UP: Cornflake seaweed covers Belongil Beach. Megan Kinninment

A MASSIVE serve of "cornflake weed" was dished up on Byron Bay beaches yesterday - to the delight of the pipis and worms but not so appetising to humans.

The seaweed, a type of brown algae, was not toxic, said Cape Byron Marine Park manager Andrew Page, but would create a bad stench as it broke down.

"The weed is normally seen in intertidal and subtidal reefs and around seagrasses," Mr Page said.

"It seems to have washed up in large amounts following strong northerly swells accompanied by northerly winds.

"In those conditions it breaks off from the reef in the big seas and floats to the top of the water."

Mr Page said the weed would be a bonanza of nutrients for pipis and worms, which would in turn attract fish and birds such as oyster catchers.

"You can swim in it. It's not pleasant but it's not toxic like other algae such as blue-green algae."

Byron Bay's Geoff Bensley, 50, said he was amazed by the amount of seaweed that had washed up.

"It was about 700mm deep and I've never seen this much in my 50 years living here," he said.

"There are stories going back to the 1960s and '70s of huge amounts washing up and the old saltwater Byron Bay pool had to be closed for a week."



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