They may not look impressive at first sight, but if you consider that these grey, bubbling blobs are some of the oldest living organisms on earth, they become a lot more interesting.
Stromatolites and their close cousins, thrombolites are living fossils that have been producing oxygen for about 3.5 billion years. This means that when you’re looking at these rock-like structures you’re essentially stepping back in time and seeing at how life was billions of years ago.
Both stromatolites and thrombolites, which are more lumpy in shape are created over thousands of years by colonies of cyanbateria who use the sun to harness energy and create oxygen.
Perhaps most impressively, they’re the reason why we’re here today and we can thank them for the oxygen that has allowed complex life-forms to evolve. Equally impressive, they also provide insight into the environmental changes of the earth.
Lake Thetis is one of the few places in the world where you can see these living fossils. Other colonies exist at Hamelin Pool in Shark Bay and at Lake Clifton, south of Mandurah.
Lake Thetis has both stromatolites and thrombolites. These have been growing for about 3,500 years, in part thanks to the high saline content of the lake which means that few predators can survive in the salty water.
Visiting Lake Thetis
Lake Thetis is located 2km east of Cervantes along the Indian Ocean Drive. There is no fee for visiting the lake and you can access it any time of the day. It’s best to visit during the drier months of the year, when the water level is at it’s lowest.
A gravel road will take you to the carpark. From here, you can follow the walkway to the shore of the lake. This is where you’ll find the best examples of the stromatolites in lake.
You can continue along the path which will take you on a 1.5 km loop around the whole lake.
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