Swimmers urged to be on the look out for Lake Macquarie razor clams

Blending in: A razor clam growing in Lake Macquarie. Picture: Peter Macreadie, University of Technology.
Blending in: A razor clam growing in Lake Macquarie. Picture: Peter Macreadie, University of Technology.

Swimmers in Lake Macquarie have been urged to be on the lookout for razor clams lurking in the shallows after several people reported being cut by the fearsome bivalves in recent weeks. 

A 10 centimetre tall specimen was removed from Belmont Baths during an inspection of the area on Monday. 

“Council will continue to undertake regular inspections of Belmont Baths to minimise public risk,” a Lake Macquarie Council spokesman said.

The razor clam that was removed from Belmont Baths on Monday.

The razor clam that was removed from Belmont Baths on Monday.

“It is not possible to guarantee their absence from this area as the baths are part of a constantly changing marine environment.”

Lake Macquarie last recorded a spike in razor clam reports in 2013. 

The clams can grow up to half a metre long and have thin, sharp, protruding lips.

They can live up to 18 years, and their shells have growth rings similar to trees, which can be used for scientific analysis.

The council spokesman said while there were no razor clam hot spots in the lake, the clams were usually found in shallow water among seagrass.

Razor clam populations in Lake Macquarie are believed to fluctuate, although contributing factors are not well documented.

Populations may be affected by water salinity and temperature.

Camouflage: Another Lake Macquarie razor clam.  Picture: Peter Macreadie, University of Technology

Camouflage: Another Lake Macquarie razor clam. Picture: Peter Macreadie, University of Technology

However, a two-year study in 2009-2010 found only one species present in Lake Macquarie, the  Pinna bicolor.

Another study by UTS marine ecologist Dr Peter Macreadie recommended against attempting to eradicate the clams from the waterway because it would likely have unintended consequences for other marine species. 

Razor clams have also been reported at Jimmy’s Beach at Hawkes Nest over the Christmas period. 

NSW Department of Primary Industries imposes a bag limit of 50 on the clam. 

Razor clam meat, which sells for up to $150 a kilo, is described as tasting "somewhere between abalone, pearl meat and scallop".

Good eating: Razor clam meat is described as tasting somewhere between abalone, pearl meat and scallop.

Good eating: Razor clam meat is described as tasting somewhere between abalone, pearl meat and scallop.

There are nine species of razor clam, also known as razor fish, endemic to Australian waters.

They are found from tropical Australia around the southwest to Gulf St Vincent, South Australia and down the east coast to NSW, but are absent in Victoria and Tasmania. 

They are also widespread in the Indo-west Pacific region, where in some parts is an important food source.

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