The discolouration of surf and sand at Coffs Harbour is the result of surf diatoms, which have also appeared at Iluka after recent heavy seas lashed the coast.
The discolouration of surf and sand at Coffs Harbour is the result of surf diatoms, which have also appeared at Iluka after recent heavy seas lashed the coast.

NPWS refutes claim of oil spills on Clarence beaches

UPDATE 7pm: THE National Parks and Wildlife has investigated what was thought to be an oil spill on beaches near Iluka and found it was a phenomenon whipped up by the big seas that have lashed the area.

A NPWS spokeswoman said she was aware of organic plant matter appearing in the surf at Back Beach, Iluka.

NPSW understands that this isn't oil, but rather a patch of patch of organic matter known as 'surf diatoms' that's common after heavy weather.

It is generally released from seaweed growing on rocks by the pounding of the waves which mixes it with seawater to form a foam, a bit like soapy water.

Diatoms are not toxic, but people should avoid swimming in the dense patches.

Unlike oil spills, surf diatoms do not smell like oil or leave an iridescent sheen on the water surface.

The diatoms are expected to dissipate in a day or two.

UPDATE: 4.45PM: A Goodwood Island resident, who doesn't want to be named said there is oil washing up there too.

"There is chrome stuff floating in the water, purple and green slime coating of chrome looking stuff," he said.

"I've never seen anything like this in my life. It is marine pollution."

His theory about the oil at Iluka was the tide was taking the out to sea and currents were taking it to those beaches. The pollution has been at Goodwood Island for two days.

He said the source of the oil may be a vessel that has been sitting in the water for several years.

"The boat was pulled in close to shore when Cyclone Oma came through and is now listing to one side," he said.

The Daily Examiner did a story on the boat last year, when two people were arrested for operating an unseaworthy and substandard vessel.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service said it would investigate the resident's find, but has not released its findings yet. 

EARLIER: ILUKA residents concerned about patches of oil washed up on local beaches, have contacted the National Parks and Wildlife Service with their fears.

One resident, Tony Belchin, says a friend who walks the beaches locally, has spotted several large patches of oil mainly at Back Beach and Main Beach.

Mr Belchin said the only potential source of oil he could find in the was an oil tanker which ran aground in the Solomon Islands during the recent cyclone.

The Solomon Islands is more than 2000km from Australia.

The NPWS is looking into the matter.

If you have any information to add, contact Tim Howard at The Daily Examiner on 6643 0545 or email tim.howard@dailyexaminer.com.au