Shark Bay, Western Australia

From Academic Kids

Shark Bay is a locality in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia. It is located at approximately 2530'S 11330'E, over 800 km north of Perth, on the westernmost point of Australia. It was named by William Dampier, the first European to visit the bay in July 1699.

Shark Bay may refer to:

Shire of Shark Bay

The Shire of Shark Bay is a Local Government Area of Western Australia. It has an area of 25,423km2 and a population of about 950. It is made up of two pensinsulas, located at the western most point of Australia. There are two towns in the Shire of Shark Bay: Denham, which is the administrative centre for the Shire; and Monkey Mia. A substantial number of people also live at Useless Loop, a "closed" mining townsite.

The Shire of Shark Bay has a mild arid tropical climate, with mean daily maximum temperatures ranging from 22 C (72 F) in July to 32 C (90 F) in February. Rainfall is low and variable, with most rain falling as a result of cyclonic activity. The average annual rainfall is 228 mm.

Local industries include tourism, fishing, salt, pearl culturing, mining of shell grit and various pastoral activities.

Shark Bay World Heritage Site

The bay itself covers an area of 8,000 km2, with an average depth of 9 metres. It is divided by shallow banks and has many peninsulas and islands. The coastline is over 1,500 km long. It is located in the transition zone between three major climatic regions and between two major botanical provinces.

Shark Bay is an area of major zoological importance. It is home to about 10,000 dugongs (sea cows), and there are many dolphins, particularly at Monkey Mia. The area supports 26 threatened Australian mammal species, over 230 species of bird, and nearly 100 species of reptile. It is an important breeding and nursery ground for fishes, crustaceans, and coelenterates. There are 323 fish species, with many sharks and rays.

Some Bottlenose Dolphins in Shark Bay exhibit the only known case of tool use in marine mammals: they protect their beak with a sponge while searching for food in the sandy sea bottom. Apparently, mothers teach their daughters how to do this.

Shark Bay has the largest known area of seagrass, with seagrass meadows covering over 4000 km2 of the bay. It includes the 1030 km2 Wooramel Seagrass Bank, the largest seagrass bank in the world. Shark Bay also contains the largest number of seagrass species ever recorded in one place; twelve species have been found, with up to nine occurring together in some places.

At Hamelin Pool in the south of the bay, living microbes still building stromatolites are similar to the earliest life forms which dominated the earth for 3000 million years. Hamelin Pool contains the most diverse and abundant examples of stromatolite forms in the world.

Shark Bay was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1991. The site covers an area of 23,000 square kilometres. It includes many protected areas and conservation reserves, including Shark Bay Marine Park, Francois Peron National Park, Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve, Zuytdorp Nature Reserve and numerous protected islands. Denham and Useless Loop both fall within the boundary of the site but are specifically excluded from it.

External links

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