Located at the heart of the Sapphire Coast, Merimbula Lake is one of the most beautiful estuaries in NSW and is recognised as an estuary of high conservation value.
Merimbula Lake is an inlet & estuary system comprising a natural entrance, inlet channel, substantial marine delta into a large medium depth basin of approximately 3- 4 metres deep, and a much smaller shallow basin on the southern end. Much of the major waterway has a rocky shoreline, whilst the small basin shoreline is mangrove and sand based.
The inlet and causeway offers protection from damaging tidal forces. The lake sea level is elevated at 0.25 m above mean sea level. There is no record of the bar entrance ever having been closed, and bar depths of approximately 1.4 m at low tide are mostly unchanged since first European settlement.
The sea levels gradually rose to today’s level as the last ice age came to an end. The incoming sea slowly flooded valleys and washed sand back from the continental shelf to the changing coastline. Sand washed onto the shore by consistent waves has formed a sand barrier and enclosed the spectacular body of water, reducing the estuary mouth to a narrow channel.
Oysters have been farmed in Merimbula Lake since the 1920’s and the township has developed on the lake foreshore. Large tidal exchanges of ocean waters keep the estuary in good condition allowing farmers to harvest oysters from the lake for direct sale.
Merimbula Lake supports 17 locally owned oyster businesses, that sustainably harvested over 365,000 dozen oysters last year, valued at over $2.4 million.
Merimbula Lake Oyster Farmers are working to an estuary-wide EMS to help maintain clean lake waters, for the long-term
sustainability of the oyster industry … including the modernisation of growing techniques.