Scientists are studying the impact of a massive influx of fresh water and sediment to Shark Bay in Western Australia as a result of the area’s largest ever flood event recorded in December last year.
Shark Bay was declared a World Heritage Area in 1991, and has the distinction of being one of the few places in the world that satisfies all criteria for World Heritage listing.
The bay’s vast seagrass meadows – the most diverse assemblage of seagrasses in the world – support globally significant populations of endangered dugongs and turtles.
‘Seagrasses are important as the basis of the bay’s food web,’ said CSIRO researcher, Dr Mat Vanderklift. ‘An array of invertebrates feed on them, fish feed on the invertebrates, and predators like dolphin feed on the fish.
‘The meadows also provide a nursery for juveniles of many species, including crabs and prawns.’
As well as the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship, the flood-impact study involves The University of Western Australia (UWA), Curtin University and the WA Marine Science Institution.
For more details visit: http://www.ecosmagazine.com/?paper=EC11089