Great Australian Bight

Great Australian Bight

The Great Australian Bight is a large bight, or open bay located off the central and western portions of the southern coastline of mainland Australia.


By definition of the International Hydrographic Bureau, the Great Australian Bight is part of the southeastern Indian Ocean and extends eastward from West Cape Howe, Western Australia.Fact|date=September 2007 The more generally accepted boundaries are from Cape Pasley, Western Australia, to Cape Carnot, South Australia - a distance of 1,160 km or 720 miles. The much more generally accepted name in Australia for the adjoining water body is the Southern Ocean rather than the Indian Ocean. Much of the Bight lies due south of the expansive Nullarbor Plain, which straddles the two Australian states of South Australia and Western Australia.


The Great Australian Bight was first encountered by European explorers in 1627, when a Dutch navigator, Captain Thyssen, sailed along its western margins. The coast was later first accurately charted by the English explorer Captain Matthew Flinders in 1802, during his circumnavigation of the Australian continent. A later land-based survey was accomplished by Edward John Eyre.

Natural history

The coast line of the Great Australian Bight is characterised by stunning cliff faces (up to 60 m high), surfing beaches and rock platforms, ideal for whale-watching. The waters of the Great Australian Bight, despite being relatively shallow, are not fertile. While most continental shelves are rich in sea life and make popular fishing areas, the barren deserts north of the bight have very little rainfall, and what there is mostly flows inland, to dissipate underground or in salt lakes. In consequence, the Great Australian Bight receives very little of the runoff that fertilises most continental shelves and is essentially a marine desert. It is probably best noted for the large number of sharks that frequent its coastal waters, as well as the increasing numbers of Southern Right Whales that migrate within the region.

One location on the bight that is specifically oriented towards the understanding of the natural history on its coastline is the Eyre Bird Observatory.

Current conditions

Economically, the Bight has been exploited over many years as part of the fishing, whaling and shellfish industries. Bluefin tuna have been a favoured target of fishing in the Bight.

The settlements exist along the coastline of the Bight, such as Ceduna and Eucla have facilities to access the bight. Some other locations on the Eyre Highway or located on the Nullarbor do not have facilities or easy access.

External links

* [ Great Australian Bight Marine Park] - located in Commonwealth waters
* [ Great Australian Bight Marine Park - Eyre Peninsula] - the South Australian portion of the park
* [ Great Australian Bight Trawl Fishery]
* [ Wild Down Under Great Australian Bight] - BBC Nature Documentary webpage for the fauna of the region
* [ aerial video of the Great Australian Bight]

ee also

* Nullarbor

Further reading

* Edminds, Jack (1976) "Panorama of Western Australia : the Great Australian Bight" Perth,W.A. Periodicals Division, West Australian Newspapers. ISBN 0909699119 (ANB/PRECIS SIN 0140147)

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Great Australian Bight — wide bay of the Indian Ocean, indenting S Australia: c. 720 mi (1,159 km) wide …   English World dictionary

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  • Great Australian Bight — Great′ Austral′ian Bight′ n. geg a wide bay in S Australia …   From formal English to slang

  • Great Australian Bight — a wide bay in S Australia. * * * Bay of the Indian Ocean, southern Australian coast. Its generally accepted boundaries are from Cape Pasley, Western Australia, to Cape Carnot, South Australia a distance of 720 mi (1,160 km). The head of the bight …   Universalium

  • Great Australian Bight — noun a wide bay of the Indian Ocean in southern Australia; notorious for storms • Instance Hypernyms: ↑bight • Part Holonyms: ↑Australia, ↑Commonwealth of Australia …   Useful english dictionary

  • Great Australian Bight — noun the widest inlet on the Australian coastline including large sections of the coast of SA and WA along the Southern Ocean; stretches from Cape Pasley, WA to the southern tip of the Eyre Peninsula in SA …  

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