Shark Bay, Western Australia
At the most westerly point of the Australian continent, Shark Bay, with its islands and the land surrounding it, has three exceptional natural features: its vast sea-grass beds, which are the largest (4,800 km2) and richest in the world; its dugong (‘sea cow’) population; and its stromatolites (colonies of algae which form hard, dome-shaped deposits and are among the oldest forms of life on earth). Shark Bay is also home to five species of endangered mammals.
2017 Conservation Outlook
Current state and trend of VALUES
Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT
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Description of values
Most diverse and abundant examples of stromatolites – the oldest form of life on Earth
One of the world’s best examples of a living analogue for the study of the nature and evolution of the earth’s biosphere up until the early Cambrian
Seagrass banks of great geological interest
Outstanding examples of processes of biological and geomorphic evolution taking place in a largely unmodified environment
A range for many globally threatened species of plants and animals
Stromatolites are also becoming increasingly threatened as stomatolite growth is vulnerable to rising sea level and
extreme climate events (Suosaari et al., 2016).
|№||Organization/ individuals||Project duration||Brief description of Active Projects|
|1||Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Parks and Wildlife Service||
|Plant and animal research, particularly Project Eden, and plant genetics. Hartog Island Ecological Restoration Project – eradication of feral animals and pastoral herbivores and reintroduction of native mammals.|
|2||Research organisations, e.g. UWA, CSIRO, WAMSI, Curtin University, Florida International University||
|Ecosystem processes Shark research|
|3||George Town University||
|4||Australian Wildlife Conservancy||
|№||Site need title||Brief description of potential site needs||Support needed for following years|
|1||Climate change mitigation research||Resources for all projects are hard to obtain.||
|1||Considine, Mary-Lou (2013). ‘Is Shark Bay shifting from temperate to tropical’? ECOS Magazine. http://www.ecosmagazine.com/?paper=EC13084 Accessed 25 October 2017|
|2||Cowell C 2013 Shark Bay World Heritage Threats and risks analysis. DPAW|
|3||E. P. Suosaari, R. P. Reid, P. E. Playford, J. S. Foster, J. F. Stolz, G. Casaburi, P. D. Hagan, V. Chirayath, I. G. Macintyre, N. J. Planavsky & G. P. Eberli (2016). New multi-scale perspectives on the stromatolites of Shark Bay, Western Australia. Scientific Reports | 6:20557 | DOI: 10.1038/srep20557|
|4||Fourqurean et al. 2012 Science for the Management of Subtropical Embayments: Examples from Shark Bay and Florida Bay. Marine and Freshwater Research, 2012, 63:11, 941-1199|
|5||Fourqurean, J. W., Duarte, C. M., Kennedy, H., Marba`, N., Holmer, M., Mateo, M. A., Apostolaki, E. T., Kendrick, G. A., Krause-Jensen, D., McGlathery, K. J., and Serrano, O. (2012). Seagrass ecosystems as a globally significant carbon stock. Nature Geoscience 5, 505–509.|
|6||Fraser et al. 2014 (submitted) Extreme climate events lower resilience of foundation seagrass at edge of biogeographical range. Journal of Ecology|
|7||Fraser, M.,Kendrick, G., Statton, J.,Thomson, J. and Heithaus, M. (2014). ‘Climate change threatens Western Australia’s iconic Shark Bay’. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/climate-change-threatens-wester… Accessed 25 October 2017|
|8||Jahnert, R.J. and Collins, L.B. (2012) Characteristics, distribution and morphogenesis of subtidal microbial systems in Shark Bay, Australia. Mar. Geol., 303–306, 115–136.|
|9||MPRA 10-year Audit and Review of Shark Bay Marine Reserves April 2010|
|10||McCluskey P (2008) Shark Bay Strategic Plan 2008-2020 DEC|
|11||Periodic Report 2003|
|12||Retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (2013).|
Suosaari, E.P., Pamela Reid, R., Abreu Araujo, T.A.,
Playford, P.E., Holley, D.K., Mcnamara, K.J. and Eberli, G.P. (2016). Environmental pressures influencing living stromatolites in Hamelin Pool, Shark Bay, Western Australia. Palaios, v. 31, 483–496.
|14||Thomson, J.A., Burkholder, D.A., Heithaus, M.R., Fourqueran, J.W., Fraser, M.W., Statton, J., Kendrick, G.A. (2015). Extreme temperatures, foundation species, and abrupt ecosystem change: An example from an iconic seagrass ecosystem. Global Change Biology, Volume 21, Issue 4 April 2015. Pages 1463–1474 DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12694|
|15||WA EPA 2001 Assessment of Potential Petroleum Industry Impacts Study (Section 16E report)|
Walker, D.I. 1989 Seagrass in Shark Bay - the foundations of an ecosystem (In : Biology of Seagrasses :
A Treatise on the Biology of Seagrasses with special reference to the Australian Region. (Ed. A W D Larkum, A J McComb and S. A. Shepherd) Elsevier/North Holland. pp182-210.