Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve

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Modern stromatolites in Hamelin Pool, Western Australia.

Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve is located in the Shark Bay World Heritage Site of Western Australia adjacent to the historic Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station about 30 kilometres (19 mi) west of the Overlander Roadhouse on the North West Coastal Highway. Access is via Hamelin Pool Rd and then through the Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station grounds. Access is free.

Hamelin Pool[edit]

Is the eastern major water area in the Shark Bay area, separated from the western area by the Peron Peninusla, with a smaller water body just adjacent to its northern border with Faure Island - L'Haridon Bight the juncture being defined by Petit Point.

At the northern edge of the Hamelin Pool area is the Wooramel Seagrass Bank.

Marine reserve[edit]

The Marine Reserve covers 1,270 square kilometres (490 sq mi). It is one of only a few places in the world where living marine stromatolites can be found.[1] Other locations for stromatolites include an underwater site (6 metres (20 ft)deep) in the Caribbean, Persian Gulf, and in the Great Salt Lake of Utah. Hamelin Pool contains the most diverse range of stromatolites in the world.[2][3]

The stromatolites in Hamelin Pool were discovered by surveyors working for an oil exploration company in 1956 and were the first living examples of structures built by cyanobacteria.[4] The cyanobacteria living in Hamelin Pool are direct descendants of the oldest form of photosynthetic life on earth.[5] The stromatolites are similar to 3,500 million year old stromatolite fossils found in many places around the world. Stromatolites are an example of the earliest record of life on earth. They are found around the shores, mostly in the neighbourhood of 26°23′S 114°09′E / 26.383°S 114.150°E / -26.383; 114.150Coordinates: 26°23′S 114°09′E / 26.383°S 114.150°E / -26.383; 114.150

Hamelin Pool is hypersaline (it has approximately double the salinity of normal seawater), providing an ideal environment for the Stromatolites to grow, and inhibiting other marine life which would normally feed on the bacteria. The cyanobacteria live in communities on the sea bed at densities of 3000 million individuals per square metre. They are the simplest life forms to use photosynthesis to provide food and oxygen. They provided the early Earth with most of its oxygen atmosphere billions of years before plants appeared. Very fine particles of solids i.e. sand, crushed shell etc. are trapped by the sticky bacteria, to become cemented with calcium carbonate produced by the bacteria, thereby building up the stromatolite structures. Some structures are pillars up to 1.5 metres (5 ft) high and have taken thousands of years to grow. In the Marble Bar area of Western Australia there are fossil stromatolites approximately 50 metres high and 30 metres diameter. These are estimated to be over 3 billion years old. Typical growth is about 0.5 mm per year.

There are three basic types of Stromatolite, the sub-tidal (always under water) columns and the inter-tidal (exposed to air and sun during low tides) anvil or mushroom shapes depicted in most pictures. Algal mats form in the inter-tidal region and appear as areas of flat black mud flats but are actually living stromatolite.

At Hamelin Pool there is an interpretive boardwalk for tourists to venture out and examine the stromatolite structures. This is the only access area for the general public because of the fragile nature of the environment in the Hamelin Pool.[6]


  • Hutchinson Island
  • Pelican Island

Telegraph Station[edit]

At the Historic Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station built in 1884 and Historic Old Post Office first built in 1886 now the local Community Post Office/Public Phone Box, Also has the original Historic Camel Shed which is now the home to the campers kitchen, pictures and artifacts on site and now the Hamelin Pool Caravan Park has Accommodation at really good rates with Fridge TV Tea Making Facilities and the Grassed Camping Sites with power and with out power, The Caravan Park now has a new swimming pool and is also undergoing renovations on up grades. The museum showing information on the growth of stromatolites and includes what is the only stromatolites living in captivity (in an aquarium) in the world. The museum also covers the building and operation of the Historic Telegraph Station back to the 1880s.[7]


  1. ^ Logan, Brian W (1971). In Conservation of Hamelin Pool : a marine- basin environment with unique algal stromatolites, in Shark Bay, Western Australia. The Author, Baltimore, Md
  2. ^ Burne, R. V. (Robert Victor) & Bauld, J. (John) & Hunt, G. (Geoffrey), 1967- & Australia. Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics & Baas Becking Geobiological Laboratory (1990). In The Geobiology of Hamelin Pool : research reports of the BAAS Becking Geobiological Laboratory's Shark Bay Project. Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics], Canberra
  3. ^ Papineau, Dominic & Walker, Jeffrey J & Mojzsis, Stephen J & Pace, Norman R In Composition and Structure of Microbial Communities from Stromatolites of Hamelin Pool in Shark Bay, Western Australia. American Society for Microbiology - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1183352/
  4. ^ McNamara, Ken & Berry, P. F & Western Australian Museum (1995). In Stromatolites at Shark Bay. Western Australian Museum, Perth, W.A
  5. ^ Goh, Falicia Qi Yun, Biotechnology & Biomolecular Sciences, Faculty of Science, UNSW (2007). In Osmoadaptation mechanisms of cyanobacteria and archaea from the stromatolites of hamelin pool, Western Australia.
  6. ^ Western Australia. Dept. of Conservation and Land Management & Playford, Phillip (1993). In Tourist access to stromatolites and shell deposits at Hamelin Pool : report for the Department of Conservation and Land Management. The Author, [Perth]
  7. ^ Moynihan, J. F & Telecom Australia (1994). In The Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station. Telecom Australia

Further reading[edit]

  • (1994) Shark Bay marine reserves draft management plan : Shark Bay Marine Park, Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve Department of Conservation and Land Management for the National Parks and Conservation Authority. Perth, W.A : CALM for the National Parks and Nature Conservation Authority. "Shark Bay marine reserves draft management plan 1994"—Cover.
  • Thomson, Carolyn (1997) Discovering Shark Bay Marine Park and Monkey Mia Como, W.A. Department of Conservation and Land Management. ISBN 0-7309-6854-5
  • Western Australia & Bancroft, K & Davidson, J (2002). In Field survey of marine ecological communities in Shark Bay Marine Park and Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve (18–29 March 2002) : Marine Management Support, Shark Bay. Dept. of Conservation & Land Management, Marine Conservation Branch, Fremantle, W.A

External links[edit]