Seagrasses of Western Australia.


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General description.

Western Australia boasts an enormous coastline of some 12,500 km, including waters ranging from temperate to tropical. The southern coastline borders the Southern Ocean at latitudes of 32-34°S; the northern coastline is on the Timor Sea from 12-15°S, while the remainder borders the Indian Ocean. A wide variety of conditions exists along this coastline, which includes large areas of shallow soft seabed which form an ideal habitat for seagrasses. The map below shows the Western Australian coastline; seagrass habitats are highlighted in blue. (Source: Kirkman & Walker, 1989.)

Seagrass habitats in Western Australia (gif - 18k)

Seagrasses cover an estimated 20,000 km² of inshore seabed, and make up an important component of the coastal ecosystem in Western Australia (Kirkman & Walker, 1989). Major areas of seagrass growth are sheltered embayments and estuaries, although extensive meadows also occur in more exposed locations. The large, calm, shallow expanse of Shark Bay (13,000 km² contains some 12 species of seagrasses, which cover an estimated 4,500 km² of seabed - the largest reported seagrass meadows in the world (Walker, 1989).


Species list of seagrasses in Western Australia.

Some 26 species of seagrasses in 10 genera are to be found in Western Australian waters (Kirkman & Walker, 1989), a record unequalled anywhere in the world (Walker & Prince, 1987). Clicking on a name in the list below will (eventually) provide details and an image of that species as well as a distribution map for Western Australia.

[Warning!] Note: the number in brackets after the author(s) indicates the approximate size of the relevant file in bytes.

Note: The classification used here is that of Kuo and McComb (1989), Appendix A, which was in turn adapted from Tomlinson (1982) for the Orders and Families, and den Hartog (1970) for the genera and species.

A useful source of angiosperm phylogenetic information (which includes seagrasses) is:

Stevens, P.F. (2001 onwards). Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 2 August 2001.

Note that Stevens has used different synonyms for the orders listed below (i.e. he has placed them all in the Alismatales).


Division: Magnoliophyta (= Anthophyta) Cronquist, Takhtajan & Zimmermann

Class: Liliopsida (= Monocotyledoneae) Cronquist, Takhtajan & Zimmermann

Seagrass Home Page

The Western Australian Seagrass Web pages were created and are maintained by:

Mike van Keulen
Murdoch University
Western Australia.
Last update: Tuesday, 25 October, 2005 10:13