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Salinity and Seagrass of Shark Bay, Australia

25.7S 113.6E

December 20th, 2012 Category: Snapshots

Australia – December 19th, 2012

The waters of Shark Bay, Australia, appear greenish in color due to phytoplankton growth and shallower depths. In the bay’s hot, dry climate, evaporation greatly exceeds the annual precipitation rate. Thus, the seawater in the shallow bays becomes very salt-concentrated, or ‘hypersaline’. Seagrasses also restrict the tidal flow of waters through the bay area, preventing the ocean tides from diluting the sea water. The water of the bay is 1.5 to 2 times more salty than the surrounding ocean waters.

Shark Bay has the largest known area of seagrass, with seagrass meadows covering over 4,800 kmĀ² of the bay. The seagrasses are a vital part of the complex environment of the bay. Over thousands of years, sediment and shell fragments have accumulated in the seagrasses to form vast expanses of seagrass beds. This has raised the sea floor, making the bay shallower.

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