Stromatolites are the number one attraction at Hamelin Pool. These ancient structures are examples of what life on Earth was like 3.5 billion years ago and are considered living fossils. Cyanobacteria were some of the first living creatures on Earth and Stromatolities are formed by these organisms. How? The cyanobacteria bond together and produce a sticky gel – trapping sediments and sand together and gradually building up layers. As the sediment accumulates, it forms flat algal mats or hardens to form stromatolites, which have an outer layer of living cyanobacteria. At first glance these don’t even seem to be living. Each structure is actually a very slow growing microbial colony that may grow less than 1mm per year.
A 200m boardwalk gives access to the stromatolites’ environment and interpretive signage helps explain all there is to know about these intriguing organisms. A short walk leads from the Old Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station out to the start of the boardwalk. Always remember your water and camera you will need them both during you walk.
Dr Playford from UWA, highly respected in his field, was the first to recognise these Stromatolites.
The reason the Stromatolites live so well in this area is because the water is 2 1/2 time more salty (hypersaline) then the normal sea water in Shark Bay, so they dont have a lot of other predators to affect them. There are over 50 species of cyanobactoria in the Hamelin Pool.
The Boolagoorda walking track
This walking track is a 1.4 km loop track linking the Old Telegraph Station with the Stromatolite boardwalk. The walk’s key attraction is obviously the stromatolites but other interesting historic sites can be found along the way including the Old Shell Block Quarry, and graves from the past when things were very hard at Hamelin and remains of the old telegraph line. Information signs explain the significance of these features.
When visiting the Stromatolites please do the right thing and stay on the boardwalk to protect these delicate structures. as we want the rest of the world to be able to see them in the future. Always remember you cant swim in the water due to it being a World Heritage Area