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Print article Mar 13 2010 Baird Bay
written by maria.cal | 7192 Views | Rating: (0 rates)

Baird Bay

Baird Bay is a protected embayment consisting of a series of shallow (less than 5m deep) basins, separated from the open sea by an entrance reef and Jones Island. This island is home to a small but successful breeding colony of Australian Sea Lions; it is also the location for a famous and popular ecotourism activity swimming with Australian Sea Lions, run by Baird Bay Eco Experience and conservation stalwarts Trish and Alan Payne.

Baird Bay is an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) rated wetland of international significance. Baird Bay itself is a 44 square km body of shallow water, with a variety of seagrass meadows, algal mats, bare rock (limestone), sand, and silt. The margin of the bay is fringed by low coastal cliffs, shell grit beaches, sandy low-energy beaches, coastal wetlands (freshwater and saline), islands and entrance reefs.

Calca Peninsula

The coastal land adjoining Baird Bay to the west is formed by Calca Peninsula, a 1-2km wide strip of coastal heaths, grasslands, Casuarina and Melaleuca woodlands and Mallee, separating the protected waters of Baird Bay from the open waters of Searcy Bay.

The first basin of Baird Bay is a lush seagrass meadow which supports a wide diversity of marine species including several unusual species of Pipefish, Wrasse and Velvet Fish. The first basin is separated from the upper basins by a narrow channel which is the location for the settlement of Baird Bay.

The upper basins are an important nursery for a number of commercial fish species. They are also a significant refuge for migratory waterbirds and shorebirds. There are some freshwater springs and soaks on the eastern side of the bay, some of which exit below sea level, and thus contribute towards a more estuarine environment than other sections of coastline in the region.

Waterbirds can be frequently observed in many locations around Baird Bay, including the entrance channel adjacent to Baird Bay settlement (Pelicans), at the northern extremity of the Bay (Cormorants), at "The Washpool" on the eastern side of the Bay and from the Point Labatt Road on the western side of the Bay (Ducks, Teals, Grebes and Black Swans), and at the sand spit on the western side of the Bay (lines of Waterbirds are frequently visible at this location).

Significant species found in Baird Bay and its coastal margins include the Australian Sea Lion, migratory and resident waterbirds including Australian Pelican, Great and Pied Cormorants, Musk Duck, Grey Teal, Australasian Grebe and Great Crested Grebe, and a variety of migratory and resident waders, including Eastern Curlew, Hooded Plover, Banded Stilt and Sooty Oystercatcher.

Baird Bay is an important feeding area for Osprey & White-Bellied Sea Eagle (which may be observed on occasions soaring along the western coastline of Baird Bay), an important nursery for juvenile fish, and habitat for pipefish, Leafy and Weedy Sea Dragons, rays, and dolphins.

Existing conservation areas in Baird Bay are the Baird Bay Islands Conservation Park (Jones Island and the Unnamed Island in the middle basin of the Bay). In addition to this existing Reserve, a new addition to the conservation estate has been announced by the State Government for the coastal margins of Baird Bay, including "The Washpool", a series of springs on the eastern margin of the bay that supports an aquatic vegetation community and provides habitat for resident and Migratory Waterbirds.

All of Baird Bay and the narrow Crown Land Coast Reserve fringing the bay have been declared within the boundary of Marine Park 3, the new Marine Protected Area which includes 3 of the 4 Bays in the Chain of Bays. There are also ten adjoining Heritage Agreement private properties on Calca Peninsula, totalling over 1,000 Hectares which protect the coastal vegetation on the western side of Baird Bay. A new Conservation Park will be proclaimed in the near future, including the existing Baird Bay Islands Conservation Park , all of the coastal margins of Baird Bay, "The Washpool", and new conservation land acquired at the northern end of Calca Peninsula, near the junction of the Point Labatt Road and the main Sceale Bay Road. This new expanded Conservation Park will be an exciting and very worthy addition to the State's reserve system.

Tyringa

Tyringa is part of Anxious Bay and meets the sheltered waters of Baird Bay at its eastern most point. The western part of Anxious Bay is home to high cliffs, rugged coast and sheltering dunes.

Strong waves and swell pulse in to the exposed bay and dunes protect many endangered flora and fauna. Great White Sharks and Southern Right Whales are often seen in the western half of Anxious Bay in and around Tyringa. Far from the townships, Tyringa is a wild place, and forms a critical link between nearby Venus Bay Conservation Park and Baird Bay Islands Conservation Park. There are significant stands of coastal vegetation which include endangered species such as the West Coast Mintbush, Prostanthera calycina .

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