The Shark Bay Nature Park, north of Perth and around 22,000 km², is the habitat of many endangered marine and land animals. The seagrass meadows serve as a refuge for fish, crabs and crabs. In addition, they promote the growth of stromatolites. These tiny organisms, which have existed for over 3.5 billion years, form lime lumps that protrude from the water in places at low tide.
Shark Bay Natural Park: Facts
|Official title:||Shark Bay Natural Park (Shark Bay in Western Australia)|
|Natural monument:||Total area of 21 973 km², of which 10 040 km² is under nature protection; i.a. Bernier and Dorre Islands, Zuytdorp Nature Reserve, Shark Bay Marine Park, Monkey Mia Reserve and Hamelin Pool, the habitat of the stromatolites, oldest evidence of life forms on earth (3.5 billion years!)|
|Continent:||Australia / Oceania; See medicinelearners|
|Country:||Australia, Western Australia|
|Location:||Shark Bay, north of Perth and south of Carnarvon|
|Meaning:||an outstanding example of the most important phases of geological development, significant habitats for the conservation of biodiversity|
|Flora and fauna:||over 620 species of plants such as Acacia ligulata and Pimelea microcephala as well as 12 species of seaweed; out of 26 endangered mammal species in Australia 5 on the Bernier and Dorre Islands, including Lesueur brush kangaroo, shaggy rabbit kangaroo and the long-nosed species Perameles bougainville; more than 10,000 dugong (among the fork-tailed manatees) and 2,000 to 3,000 humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins at Monkey Mia; over 230 species of birds such as osprey, mountain parakeet and yellow breasted parakeet; almost 100 species of reptiles and amphibians such as cave and short-tailed monitor lizards; nesting green turtles and loggerhead turtles on the beaches of Dirk Hartog Island and Peron Peninsula|
Birth of life
From the highest point of the deep red sand dunes on the Peron Peninsula, visitors get the first impression of the grandiose and changeable game of creation above and below water. While deep down in the silvery-blue waves, black, meter-long shadows, which can easily be defined as sharks even from above, move their course just below the surface of the water, in another picturesque sandy bay called Monkey Mia dolphins race in wide arcs out of the shallow sea. On the beach, tourists wade up to their hips in the water and enthusiastically approach these trusting marine mammals, which can be fed and petted. This peaceful idyll creates a lot of interest from an increasing number of visitors.
The picturesque coastal strip surprises one more time: Here mineralized microorganisms were found that existed in a similar form on our earth millions of years ago and that are the origin of life on this planet: the stromatolites of the Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve.
Today, these bulbous, reef-like limescale deposits, which are formed by cyanobacteria living in colonies, are up to 1.5 meters high, ten million times larger than the organisms that make them up. Although there are similar original forms of life in other parts of the world – for example in Lake Clifton (Western Australia) and on Lee Stocking Island (Bahamas) – Hamelin Pool is unique because nowhere else are they so diverse, present and abundant especially so accessible.
Stromatolites are extremely fragile because they are continually built up from living microbial aggregates that grow less than a millimeter per year. A single human footprint would affect growth to such an extent that it would take many years for this micro-world to recover. And after being destroyed by a car lane, “rebuilding” could take a whole human life.
Although there is an information center in Monkey Mia and also in Shark Bay that provides information about the unique and extremely sensitive structure of the stromatolites, visitors are often spotted wading through the shallow, turquoise water and waiting for the stromatolites to be »in sight ” come. The knowledge of the precious archetypal form of life is not yet very widespread. Even if Hamelin Pool was declared a marine protected area in 1990 due to its importance and in order to do justice to the growing public interest, this measure seems to have had no significant effects so far. The Environmental Protection Agency of Western Australia (CALM) is therefore currently thinking of building a jetty on which visitors can approach the stromatolites far into the sea.
In addition to these microorganisms and the “hand-tame” dolphins, there are other attractions, including hundreds of pink-colored parakeets that have their home in fragrant sandalwood trees. Tourists are usually greeted with happy twittering and often accompanied by the feathered hosts on the path that almost everyone takes when visiting Shark Bay: down to the fabled Shell Beach, a snow-white beach made up of millions of tiny, snow-white seashells. The presence of these shells explains the sometimes bizarre construction of quite a few houses in the nearby town of Denham. Many are built from blocks of seashells, as the early settlers quickly discovered that clams that had grown together were an excellent building material. Today this construction activity is subject to strict controls,
Next door, in Monkey Mia, the dolphins are still curiously coming to the beach. That dolphin lady Holy Finn, who established the connection from dolphin to human about three decades ago and came to the beach at the same time every day to “observe the human activity”, has recently passed away, peaceful and serene on her side the bay, in Shark Bay.