Vegetation Types in Shark Bay
For a Shark Bay vegetation map
click here (1.56mb).
Shark Bay is a warm, dry, wind-swept region and although it has no tall forests or woodlands it does boast a variety of other kinds of plant communities, including seagrass meadows, shrublands, mangroves and low, wind-pruned heath. It also marks the transition point between two major botanical provinces: the temperate South West and the arid Eremaean. As a result Shark Bay is very species-rich. At least 820 species live here, including many threatened and endemic plants and others at the limit of their southern or northern range. Living at the extreme, these ‘pioneer’ species have stretched their survival capabilities to withstand their harsh environment. The significance and richness of Shark Bay’s plants contributed to its listing as a World Heritage Area.
Two botanical zones
Shark Bay’s vegetation features plants of both the arid and temperate botanical provinces.
- The South West Botanical Province is dominated by plants typical of cooler, wetter southwestern Australia. These include members of the Proteaceae (banksia and grevilleas) and Myrtaceae (eucalyptus, melaleuca, thryptomene and verticordia) families. Such species are common on the southern part of Nanga, the eastern part of Tamala pastoral lease, and the Zuytdorp Nature Reserve.
- The Eremaean province is dominated by desert-adapted species such as Acacia (wattle), samphire and spinifex. Vegetation on Peron Peninsula is mainly Eremaean. Monkey Mia, for example, is heavily populated by limestone wattle (Acacia sclerosperma), bowgada (Acacia ramulosa), kurara or dead finish (Acacia tetragonophylla) and dune wattle or umbrella bush (Acacia ligulata). Hakeas and grevilleas, plants of cooler climes, reach their northern limit on Peron. Spinifex hummocks occur on its southern reaches.
Where the zones overlap
The two botanical zones overlap in a region known as the tree heath. The most diverse plant community in Shark Bay, the tree heath is found on the southern parts of Nanga and Tamala pastoral lease down to the inland section of Zuytdorp Nature Reserve. Find out more about this special community here.
For more information about Western Australian plants check out the West Australian Herbarium’s FloraBase.