Great Australian Bight
The IHO defines the Great Australian Bight as having the following limits:
On the North. The South coast of Australia.
Much of the Bight lies due south of the expansive Nullarbor Plain, which straddles the two Australian states of South Australia and Western Australia. The Eyre Highway passes close to the cliffs of the Bight between the Head of the Bight and Eucla.
The Great Australian Bight is sometimes considered part of the Indian Ocean The AHS considers it to be part of the Southern Ocean, using the expanded Australian definition used for this ocean. The IHO in its Limits of Oceans and Seas (1953) does not specify an ocean explicitly, but groups the Bight with the South Pacific Ocean, Bass Strait and Tasman Sea.
The Great Australian Bight was first encountered by European explorers in 1627, when a Dutch navigator, François Thijssen, sailed along its western margins. The coast was later first accurately charted by the English explorer Captain Matthew Flinders in 1802, during his circumnavigation of the Australian continent. A later land-based survey was accomplished by Edward John Eyre.
The coast line of the Great Australian Bight is characterised by cliff faces (up to 60 m high), surfing beaches and rock platforms, ideal for whale-watching. The waters of the Great Australian Bight, despite being relatively shallow, are not fertile. While most continental shelves are rich in sea life and make popular fishing areas, the barren deserts north of the bight have very little rainfall, and what there is mostly flows inland, to dissipate underground or in salt lakes. In consequence, the Great Australian Bight receives very little of the runoff that fertilises most continental shelves and is essentially a marine desert. It is probably best noted for the large number of sharks that frequent its coastal waters, as well as the increasing numbers of Southern Right Whales that migrate within the region.
One location on the bight that is specifically oriented towards the understanding of the natural history on its coastline is the Eyre Bird Observatory.
Economically, the Bight has been exploited over many years as part of the fishing, whaling and shellfish industries. Bluefin tuna have been a favoured target of fishing in the Bight.
The settlements existing along the coastline of the Bight, such as Ceduna and Eucla have facilities to access the bight. Some other locations on the Eyre Highway or located on the Nullarbor do not have facilities or easy access.
- "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition". International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- "AHS – AA609582". The Australian Hydrographic Service. 2012-07-05. Retrieved 2013-05-30.
- "Great Australian Bight". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
- "Marine Gazetteer Placedetails". VLIZ. Retrieved 2013-05-30.
- Edminds, Jack (1976) Panorama of Western Australia : the Great Australian Bight Perth,W.A. Periodicals Division, West Australian Newspapers. ISBN 0-909699-11-9 (ANB/PRECIS SIN 0140147)
- Great Australian Bight Marine Park - located in Commonwealth waters
- Great Australian Bight Marine Park - Eyre Peninsula - the South Australian portion of the park
- Great Australian Bight Trawl Fishery
- Wild Down Under Great Australian Bight - BBC Nature Documentary webpage for the fauna of the region
- aerial video of the Great Australian Bight