Last update: August 24th, 2019 at 2:00 pm
On June 27, 2016, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image of a clear winter’s day in northern Australia.
The blue waters of Joseph Bonaparte Gulf are muddied with sediment pouring from the Victoria River in Australia’s Northern Territory. The rugged coastline of the northern tip of Western Australia lies in the left section of the image. Bright white, highly reflective areas along the coastline are not, as might seem logical, beaches of white sand, but are hypersaline salt flats – areas where the evaporation of highly salt-laden water has left a crusty mineral coating on the landscape.
Just to the west of the Victoria River Delta is a diamond-shaped point with relatively light white edges. Known as Legune, it has been recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International. The hypersaline flats support few birds, but the wetlands are seasonally flooded, creating habitat attractive to many species of bird, including Pied Heron, Australian White Ibis, Rufous Night-Heron, and Wandering Whistling Duck.