Shark Bay stromatolites under threat from runoff

Shark Bay stromatolites under threat from runoff

The future of the World Heritage listed stromatolites in Western Australia is under threat from climate change.

The stromatolites are about 2 billion years old and are the oldest living organisms on the planet.

Hamelin Pool, located in Shark Bay in the North West, contains one of the world’s best examples of living stromatolites.

The stromatolites, that look like mushroom-shaped rocks, thrive in highly saline environments.

Seagrasses that help protect the stromatolites at Shark Bay by keeping the surrounding water almost twice as saline as usual sea water, are being damaged by runoff from floodwaters.

In the past 12 months, there have been three floods, causing fresh water run into the sea.

Di Walker from the Oceans Institute at the University of WA says it is critical to try to limit runoff when the area floods.

“We’re trying to make sure that those plants are actually in a healthy condition,” she said.

“What we need to do is actually to see if we can improve the land management practices which is why we’re working with the catchment managers to try to get them to tell us what they think we can do to help prevent those sort of runoff events.”

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