20 April 2017

Tests conducted by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, University of Waikato and the Ministry of Primary Industries, find the cause of the mass tuatua die-off at Waihī Beach mid-March was most likely due to the heavy swells the region experienced in the days leading up to the beaching, not contaminants or disease.

As part of a joint research programme, a team of Bay of Plenty Regional Council and University of Waikato scientists ran a number of tests on tuatua samples found on Waihī Beach to determine the cause of death.

“Staff analysed samples of the shellfish for the presence of heavy metals, algal biotoxins and other indicators of contamination.  Results indicate that levels found in the samples were comparable to those recorded in live, healthy tuatua, ruling out contaminants as the cause of death,” said Bay of Plenty Regional Council environmental scientist, Rebecca Lawton.

The Ministry of Primary Industries also analysed samples of the shellfish for evidence of disease. Results indicated that bacterial or viral disease was not a likely cause of death either.

Regional Council scientists believe that although the images of hundreds of shellfish caused quite a bit of concern, Waihī Beach is still a healthy habitat for shellfish.