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HomeNewsClontarf pool upgrade in progress after seahorses relocated

Clontarf pool upgrade in progress after seahorses relocated

Clontarf Tidal Pool in Middle Harbour, just north of The Spit Bridge, is in the midst of a complete rebuild, having reached the end of its working life.

Constructed in the 1940s, the timber beams along its periphery were in states of disrepair, with several sections rotting and others missing, collapsed into the sea. One corner of the netting was open, exposing the pool to sharks – the very predators the netting is designed to exclude.

Clontarf Tidal Pool is the most heavily used tidal enclosure in the Northern Beaches LGA, so says Northern Beaches Council.

Clontarf pool is currently enclosed in scaffold fencing and contractors SMC Marine Pty Ltd are undertaking the upgrade works.

Among other works, SMC Marine is also presently involved in the design and construction of the new Sydney Fish Market, and they installed the Wulugul Walk landscaped terrace and boardwalk on the harbourside at Barangaroo.

On the Northern Beaches, SMC Marine engineered and implemented the Narrabeen Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge.

Council received grant funding for the Clontarf Pool upgrade under the NSW State Government Public Spaces Legacy Program.

Clontarf tidal pool is being upgraded and the rotten timbers replaced with more enduring materials. Photo: Alec Smart

Deeper, wider, longer

In a December 2022 media release, Council revealed, “Features of the proposed design include:

* Pool enlargement .. including newly built sandstone bleachers and showers.

* Increase in width of 3m into the harbour to provide lap swimming in deeper water on lower tides and to reduce the need for costly dredging operations.

* Increase in length to 64m, providing more protected wading area and shoreline to cater for heavy use periods and future increase in usage…

“Clontarf Tidal Pool will look similar to the upgraded tidal pool at Little Manly.”

Pedestrian access to the beach has been retained, as well as space to perform necessary sand raking (cleaning with a tractor) along the shoreline and into the zone enclosed by the pool edge.

Council made the original announcement of a proposed upgrade to the NSW Heritage-listed tidal pool in August 2022:

“The renovation will maintain the heritage aesthetic of the pool, while increasing the length and width of the pool to improve user experience on busy days as well as aligning with other elements in the park, like the lovely sandstone bleachers and public showers.”

The statement continued, “Council proposes to use carefully considered materials to re-build the pool, and the overall design will be similar to other pools recently constructed, like the Manly Tidal Pool that’s received universal community praise.

“Materials used in the design concept include timber walers around the pool circumference, the use of HDPE sleeved steel piles and high strength shark netting. The use of more durable materials will result in less maintenance and will ensure less disturbance to the marine life over the long term.”

Dept Primary Industries [DPI] relocated seahorses from the pool prior to commencement of works. Photo: Josve/Wikimedia
Seahorse survival

However, the work could not be undertaken until a seahorse colony resident in the pool was relocated, which has just occurred following The Department of Primary Industry (Fisheries) [DPI] approval.

Construction is expected to commence in March and expected to be complete by September 2023, in time for the seahorse breeding season.

The White’s seahorse, Hippocampus whitei, named after John White, Surgeon general to the First Fleet, is an endangered species.

Why is the species endangered and the DPI needed to relocate the Clontarf colony?

“Within Sydney Harbour, population pressure has caused their natural habitats to decline and, as a result the species is now predominantly found on man-made swimming nets within the harbour,” DPI explain.

“These nets are periodically cleaned to remove the marine growth and repair the structural integrity of the nets which can lead to further displacement of seahorses and cause populations to dramatically decline. DPI Fisheries has been working with councils to develop practices which avoid damage to seahorses during net cleaning and repair.”

Forty Baskets Beach tidal pool was upgraded in Dec 2018 when Clontarf pool was last repaired. Photo: Alec Smart
Council revealed Clontarf Tidal Pool will look similar to the upgraded tidal pool at Little Manly (above). Photo: Alec Smart

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

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