Death on the beaches

South Ballina Beach is a wild stretch of coastline, especially in winter. It takes a bit of effort to get there – over the Richmond River by ferry – so fewer people go there. It’s mostly frequented by beach fishermen and their 4WDs. It’s quite a dangerous place for swimming, and several people have drowned.

The wind was cold and blustery when I visited last weekend. This juvenile Pacific gull (Larus pacifica) was resting on the sand, slightly apart from a bunch of common terns and silver gulls.

Juvenile Pacific gull

Pacific gulls (the juveniles are called mollyhawks in South Australia) are big – compare with the crested terns, which are about the same size as silver gulls …

Pacific gull and crested terns - compare the sizes

A dead crested tern (Sterna bergii) lay on the sand, perhaps a victim of old age or winter storms …

Dead crested tern

Nearby its cousin contemplated the wind and sand …

Crested tern

and a juvenile kept an eye on the proceedings …

Juvenile crested tern

An Australasian gannet (Morus serrator) had also given up the ghost. You can see remnants of the yellow plumage at the back of the head …

Dead Australasian gannet

Feet of Australasian gannet

A Torresian crow (Corvus orru) also …

Dead Torresian crow

and several fairy prions (Pachyptila turtur). These are oceanic and breed on coastal islands south of Victoria and Tasmania. This is a ‘tick’ for me – I hadn’t seen one before.

Dead fairy prion

Fairy prion, underside

Lastly, the remnants of several large cuttlefish, from either Sepia apama (the giant cuttlefish), or Sepia latimanus (the broadclub cuttlefish). Norman and Reid’s A Guide to Squid, Cuttlefish and Octopuses of Australasia indicates that both  are in our area. You can see a whole cuttlebone of Sepia apama here.

Large cuttlebones

This entry was posted in Animals on land, Birds, Frogs and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Death on the beaches

  1. Rebecca says:

    My boss on Jekyll Island used to compare the beach to a big graveyard. Every interesting thing you find washed up is essentially a bit of a dead animal.

  2. Pleased to see others posting informative images of dead animals.
    Denis Wilson

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