Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve
Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve is located in the Shark Bay World Heritage Site
Shark Bay, Western Australia
Shark Bay is a World Heritage Site in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia. It is an area centred approximately on , 800 kilometres north of Perth, on the westernmost point of Australia. An expedition led by Dirk Hartog happened upon the area in 1616, becoming the second group of Europeans...

 of Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

 adjacent to the historic Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station about30 kilometres (19 mi) west of the Overlander Roadhouse
Overlander, Western Australia
The Overlander Roadhouse is in Western Australia, between Geraldton and Carnarvon on the North West Coastal Highway.Its remoteness has led to the area around it being known as Overlander, though there is no such official locality...

 on the North West Coastal Highway
North West Coastal Highway
North West Coastal Highway in Western Australia is a generally north-south Western Australian highway which links the fishing town of Geraldton with the iron ore port of Port Hedland. It is long, and constructed as a sealed 2-lane single carriageway with overtaking lanes in some parts. It was...

. Access is via Hamelin Pool Rd and then through the Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station grounds. Access is free.

Hamelin Pool

Is the eastern major water area in the Shark Bay area, separated from the western area by the Peron Peninusla, with a smaller water body just adjacent to its northern border with Faure Island
Faure Island
Faure Island is a 58 km2 island pastoral lease and nature reserve, east of the Francois Peron National Park on the Peron Peninsula, in Shark Bay, Western Australia. It lies in line with the Monkey Mia resort to the west, and the Wooramel River on the eastern shore of Shark Bay...

 - L'Haridon Bight
L'Haridon Bight
L'Haridon Bight is one of the bays on the eastern side of the Peron Peninsula in the Shark Bay World Heritage Site in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia....

 the juncture being defined by Petit Point.

At he northern edge of the Hamelin Pool area is the Wooramel Seagrass Bank
Wooramel Seagrass Bank
Wooramel Seagrass Bank is a large deposit of carbonate sediment, a sand bank, formed by diverse communities of seagrasses off the coast of Carnarvon, Western Australia. The mattes of seagrass meadows and stands consolidate a shallow platform of sandy substrate by acting as an organic baffle against...


Marine reserve

The Marine Reserve covers 1270 square kilometres (490 sq mi). It is one of only a few places in the world where living marine stromatolites can be found. Other locations for stromatolites include an underwater site (6 metres (20 ft)deep) in the Caribbean, Persian Gulf, and in the Great Salt Lake of Utah. Hamelin Pool contains the most diverse range of stromatolites in the world.

The stromatolites in Hamelin Pool were discovered by surveyors working for an oil exploration company in 1956 and were the first living examples of structures built by cyanobacteria. The cyanobacteria living in Hamelin Pool are direct descendants of the oldest form of photosynthetic life on earth. The stromatolites are similar to 3,500 million year old stromatolite fossils found in many places around the world. Stromatolites are an example of the earliest record of life on earth. They are found around the shores, mostly in the neighbourhood of 26°23′S 114°09′E

Hamelin Pool is hypersaline
Hypersaline lake
A hypersaline lake is a landlocked body of water that contains significant concentrations of sodium chloride or other mineral salts, with saline levels surpassing that of ocean water . Specific microbial and crustacean species thrive in these high salinity environments that are otherwise...

(it has approximately double the salinity of normal seawater), providing an ideal environment for the Stromatolites to grow, and inhibiting other marine life which would normally feed on the bacteria. The cyanobacteria live in communities on the sea bed at densities of 3000 million individuals per square metre. They are the simplest life forms to use photosynthesis to provide food and oxygen. They provided the early Earth with most of its oxygen atmosphere billions of years before plants appeared. Very fine particles of solids i.e. sand, crushed shell etc. are trapped by the sticky bacteria, to become cemented with calcium carbonate produced by the bacteria, thereby building up the stromatolite structures. Some structures are pillars up to 1.5 metres (5 ft) high and have taken thousands of years to grow. In the Marble Bar area of Western Australia there are fossil stromatolites approximately 50 metres high and 30 metres diameter. These are estimated to be over 3 billion years old. Typical growth is about 0.5 mm per year.

There are three basic types of Stromatolite, the sub-tidal (always under water) columns and the inter-tidal (exposed to air and sun during low tides) anvil or mushroom shapes depicted in most pictures. Algal mats form in the inter-tidal region and appear as areas of flat black mud flats but are actually living stromatolite.

At Hamelin Pool there is an interpretive boardwalk for tourists to venture out and examine the stromatolite structures. This is the only access area for the general public because of the fragile nature of the environment in the Hamelin Pool.

Telegraph Station

At the historic Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station and Caravan Park nearby is a museum showing information on the growth of stromatolites and includes what is reported to be the only stromatolites living in captivity (in an aquarium) in the world. The museum also covers the building and operation of the telegraph station back to the 1880s. The Caravan Park caters for meals, refreshments and souvenirs.

Further reading

  • (1994) Shark Bay marine reserves draft management plan : Shark Bay Marine Park, Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve Department of Conservation and Land Management for the National Parks and Conservation Authority. Perth, W.A : CALM for the National Parks and Nature Conservation Authority. "Shark Bay marine reserves draft management plan 1994" -- Cover.

  • Thomson, Carolyn (1997) Discovering Shark Bay Marine Park and Monkey Mia Como, W.A. Department of Conservation and Land Management. ISBN 0-7309-6854-5

  • Western Australia & Bancroft, K & Davidson, J (2002). In Field survey of marine ecological communities in Shark Bay Marine Park and Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve (18-29 March, 2002) : Marine Management Support, Shark Bay. Dept. of Conservation & Land Management, Marine Conservation Branch, Fremantle, W.A

External links

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