Sea change is blamed on coral spawn

MARK Newman was shocked when he went to enjoy the stunning ocean views of Elliott Heads yesterday morning - numerous brownish streaks marred the usually blue/green water.

Mr Newman said he first noticed thick masses of the sludge-type mixture coming in yesterday morning, and thought it may have been an oil slick.

“As the day's gone on it's gotten heavier,” he said.

Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) Wide Bay Capricorn regional manager Craig Holden said the mystery substance was coral spawn, and it normally does come into beaches “once or twice” a year.

“It's been hanging around for a couple of days, but it's hard to tell (how long it will last) because it seems to be coming out from sea,” Mr Holden said.

“It depends on how much is out there and the wind changes (to disperse it).”

Although various beaches have been closed for hours at a time due to the spawn, Mr Holden said it was more of a precaution when the spawn was heavy.

“Lifeguards have been cautious by closing the beaches,” he said.

“It's not that thick everywhere, but it's been pretty green and foamy.”

He said some beaches close more often than others, but he did not know of it to be harmful.

“I don't think I'd like to swallow it myself though,” he said.

According to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), when corals spawn they produce what is known as a spawning slick.

These slicks can be metres wide and kilometres long, and often have a pink or brown tinge.

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