Shark Bay is one of only two places in the world where living marine stromatolites exist. These living fossils contain microbes similar to those found in 3.5 billion year old rocks – the earliest record of life on earth. As such, the stromatolites provide a record of local environmental changes.
At Hamelin Pool, the world’s oldest organisms can be seen – Stromatolites.
Stromatolites are the result of primitive life forms that first existed on earth 3.5 billion years ago. The dome shaped structures reach up to 60cm in height and are formed by single celled organisms called cyanobacteria. The process continues today.
The stromatolites at Hamelin Pool represent an outstanding example of the earths evolutionary history. Just south of Monkey Mia, this massive occurrence of stromatolites is easily accessible by way of an educational boardwalk at Hamelin Bay. Stromatolites are the earliest known form of life on earth.
The low tidal flow in Shark Bay has created hypersalination, a level of salt twice that of normal seawater. In these salty pools, stromatolites grow at a rate of less than 1mm per year. A micro-organism, cyanobacteria build up, trapping fine sediment particles from the warm water and binding it together with mucus.
This unusual life form grows to about 60cm tall and look like mushroom-shaped rocky domes. The discovery of these living fossils was akin to finding a live dinosaur.