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Wham, bam, stop the clam: Brisbane’s latest invasive pest a threat to river health

Queensland authorities are racing to contain the spread of Australia’s newest invasive pest, which poses a threat to river health and water infrastructure.

Feb 15, 2024, updated Feb 15, 2024
A combined image of two undated supplied images obtained Thursday, February 15, 2024 shows the highly invasive freshwater gold clam (corbicula fluminea) at Colleges Crossing along the Brisbane River. (AAP Image/Supplied by the Queensland Government)

A combined image of two undated supplied images obtained Thursday, February 15, 2024 shows the highly invasive freshwater gold clam (corbicula fluminea) at Colleges Crossing along the Brisbane River. (AAP Image/Supplied by the Queensland Government)

The freshwater gold clam has been found at several sites on the Brisbane River and authorities have issued an alert in a bid to contain it.

It’s the first confirmed detection of the invader in Australia, and the risks of widespread dispersal are high.

The claim is a fast-growing prolific breeder, and harnesses water flows in river systems to cast its larvae over broad areas.

It can reduce water quality, displace native clams, and potentially clump and block waterways and water infrastructure including hydroelectric dams, irrigation systems and water treatment plants.

So far it’s been found at Savages Crossing, Colleges Crossing and Riverside Park.

Biosecurity Queensland has urged boaties and other river users to be on alert and report any sightings of the pest, which has an inflated, round to triangular shell that’s yellowish brown to black with evenly spaced ridges.

Shells are usually less than 25mm long but it can get to 50 to 65mm.

Watercraft owners are also being urged to check, clean and dry their equipment to minimise the risk of transferring the species to new places.

That includes checking the wheel arches on trailers, boat propellors, fishing tackle and footwear for river mud.

The clam is a long-distance hitchhiker in ballast water and can also be spread through the aquarium trade.

It was detected for the first time in New Zealand last year in the Waikato River, with authorities there warning a single clam can produce 400 offspring a day and up to 70,000 a year.

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