Ocean pool next step closer to becoming a reality

3rd August 2017 5:00 AM
SCU Marine biologist Peter Harrison and Ocean Pool Committee chairman John Wise. Ocean Pool Committee chairman John Wise and SCU Marine Biologist Professor Peter Harrison. Jasmine Burke

THE reality of Ballina's ocean pool gained speed yesterday with the proposed site mapped out by Southern Cross University using drone technology.

Hundreds of digital images will be overlaid to give a complete picture of the area for marine biologists to assess the marine biology within the area, as part of an environmental impact study of the site.

The proposed pool is to be 50m long by 20m wide on the existing rock shelf at Shelly Beach.

Ballina Ocean Pool Committee Chairman, John Wise said the objective is to design a natural tidal rock pool which requires minimal maintenance.

"The purpose is to provide a natural ocean pool located in a beautiful coastal environment allowing additional recreational opportunities on the beach for local families and tourists," Mr Wise said.

Director of the SCU Ideas Research Institute and Marine Ecology Research Centre, Professor Peter Harrison said they are trying to make a leap in advance from existing ocean pools and if they get it right, it may "form a model for potential other pools".

"We want to understand what's here now in terms of the organisms so we can ensure a pool would be built to support both people's enjoyment and also the way in which it sits in the sea scape," Prof Harrison said.

"At the moment we are examining with surveys to look for all the types of present species on the rocks and at the moment there are very few because the area is highly impacted by sand...the area is really dynamic."

He said the pool design - "self-cleaning and self-flushing" - will hopefully form a natural habitat for snails to naturally clean the algae.

Mr Wise said the next step was to employ specialists to fulfil obligations in preparation of the development application, which he hopes will be put in by the end of the year.

The committee received $55,000 in funding earlier this year from the NSW State Government for surveys and professional reports.