Wirriya Jalyanu Seagrass Festival - celebrating Malgana language, art and science of Shark Bay's Seagrass Ecosystems
This article about the Wirriya Jalyanu Seagrass Festival was published online in the April 2021 edition of the Shark Bay CRC online publication Inscription Post. Seagrass is an important element of the Shark Bay World Heritage Site. The Wirriya Jalyanu Festival promoted connections through learning about the seagrass ecosystem. Activities at the Festival included science, archaeology, cooking, art, dance, land management, and Malgana language. Science talks provided a context for the Festival events. Three invited speakers presented passionately about their research. UWA’s Prof Gary Kendrick spoke about seagrass ecosystems: the foundation of Shark Bay’s fragile marine environment and the impacts of heat waves. Malgana woman and artist Bianca McNeair spoke about turtle tagging fieldwork with Malgana women on Wirruwanna (Dirk Hartog Island), and UWA researcher Dr Ana Sequeira spoke about tracking the movements of turtles and dugong.
Gathaagudu (two waters), also known as Shark Bay, is the traditional country of Malgana peoples. It is also home to expansive seagrass (wirriya jalyanu) meadows. This article, published in Issue 114 of the Friends of King's Park magazine For People and Plants, takes you on a high-resolution journey to the surface of seagrass leaves and the individual cells giving life and colour within them. Exploring the anatomical structures of seagrasses (and comparative works with eucalypt species) provides inspiration for environmental science student and emerging Malgana artist, Tiahna Oxenham. In keeping with cultural heritage protocols, art works are created from plant material collected on Malgana Country, keeping her connection to country alive.