Due to scheduled maintenance, MyCouncil and public documents will be unavailable between 5.00pm 19 April and 8.00am 22 April 2024. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Driftwood - it's more than deadwood

Learn more about the surprising role driftwood plays in our ecosystem.

Driftwood - it's more than deadwood

Driftwood is wood that has been washed onto a shore or beach of a sea, lake, or river by the action of winds, tides or waves.

It's commonly found on our shores and along the tideline.

Driftwood for shelter and food

While floating in the ocean, the driftwood provides shelter and food for birds, fish and other aquatic species. 

Gribbles, shipworms and bacteria decompose the wood and gradually turn it into nutrients that are reintroduced to the food web. 

When it doesn’t decompose at sea the (often partially decomposed) wood washes ashore, where it also acts as shelter for birds, plants, and other species. Driftwood can also become the foundation for sand dunes.

Most driftwood is the remains of terrestrial trees, in whole or part, that have been washed into the ocean, due to flooding, high winds, or other natural occurrences, or as the result of logging. 

So what's drift lumber?

There is also a subset of driftwood known as ‘drift lumber’. Drift lumber includes the remains of man-made wooden objects, such as buildings and their contents washed into the sea during storms, wooden objects discarded into the water from shore, dropped dunnage (padding material used to protect goods during shipping), lost cargo from ships, and occasionally (less so here) the remains of shipwrecked wooden ships. 

However, by the time it arrives on the shore it is often very difficult or impossible to determine the origin of a particular piece of driftwood.

Love where we live and co-exist with nature in our wildlife friendly biosphere with these tips:

  • stay on the designated walkway and out of the dunes and bush
  • keep your dogs on a lead and pick up after them
  • bin your rubbish to keep our Sunshine Coast clean and litter free.

This article Driftwood - it's more than deadwood has been supplied from the OurSC website and has been published here with permission.