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Shell Beach, Shark Bay, WA
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The hypersalinated water of L’Haridon Bight in Shark Bay are home to billions of tiny coquina bivalve shells and is known as Shell Beach. The high water salinity (salt concentration) levels in this area have resulted in the proliferation of this particular species, The Cardiid Cockle is particularly tolerant to increased salinity, while many species are not. Its predators, such as the shell drilling gastropods, do not cope well in this environment.This has resulted in the accumulation of millions of these tiny shells along the shore.

About 45km south of Denham Township and on the western side of the peninsula, the coquina bivalve shellfish has no predator. The shell fish have existed in huge numbers for thousands of years, then died natural deaths then been washed ashore.

Shell Beach is covered for a 60km-long stretch to a depth of some seven to ten metres. The effect is brilliant; a long, snow-white beach bordered by aqua blue ocean waters. Shell Beach is one of only two shell beaches like it in the world. There must be many photo albums around the world with photos of persons throwing a handful of snow like shells high into the air, with the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean behind them; the sun bright; and the photo giving the appearance of a heavy snow storm in the tropics of Australias Coral Coast. 

It is thought that this cockle was first deposited here about 4000 years ago. Over the years the shell deposits have cemented to form soft coquina limestone. Rainwater repeatedly dissolves small quantities of calcium carbonate of which the shells are composed. As the water evaporates, the calcium carbonate is precipitated as calcite crystals, which bind the shells together. Coquina limestone blocks have been used to build many of Shark Bays old buildings. These blocks have very good insulation characteristics. A coquinite quarry can be visited at Hamelin Pool, adjacent to the historic Telegraph Station.

Pristine Shell Beach, shark Bay, WA.
Coqina shell deposit on Shell Beach