Ghost crabs have deserted 4WD beach
A SOUTHERN Cross University study has found there has been significant impact on ghost crabs living in the sand on a beach where four-wheel-drive vehicles are allowed.
Environmental science student Patrick Scott has discovered there are no signs of beach crab activity on South Ballina Beach, where four-wheel-drives have free access.
By comparison, Mr Scott found that on a beach in Bundjalung National Park where four-wheel-drives are banned the beach teemed with life, including hundreds of ghost crabs which live in tiny holes in the sand.
“I closely monitored a three-kilometre stretch of the 27km-long South Ballina Beach and was not able to find any evidence of ghost crabs,” he said.
“In fact, the typical shore birds and other creatures one would expect on a sandy beach were also not observed during the research period.
“By contrast when I monitored a pristine beach in the Bundjalung National Park I counted in excess of 300 ghost crab holes over a 1.5km stretch.
“I was also able to observe the endangered pied oyster catcher, which has been recorded to sometimes feed on the tiny crabs, most of which are less than two centimetres in diameter.”
Mr Scott and other SCU researchers will present their findings at the Northern Rivers Conference on Ecological Restoration and Monitoring, to be held at the Byron Bay Community Centre on August 28.
For more information on the conference contact the School of Environmental Science and Management at SCU on 6620 3650.