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Victoria Wade

Marine life of the Dampier Archipelago thrives in a diverse range of habitats: from estuarine and nearshore, to reefs and open-water (pelagic). While not all of the 650 identified fish species from these aquatic zones are depicted in the rock art, these depictions include the full range of marine habitats.

Nearly 3,000 zoomorphic motifs were recorded by Dynamics of the Dreaming, of which more than half are marine subjects. Amongst these are 573 fish motifs! Other marine subjects including stingrays, dugong, crocodiles, crustaceans and importantly turtles.

The majority of the 650 species of fish in the Archipelago are not present in the rock art.

The rock art does include 17 species of fish and several rays and sharks.

They are found in every local marine habitat, including estuary, nearshore, reef and pelagic. Reef species dominate.


Historical accounts of Yaburara coastal life are brief and provide only cursory insights into the likely complexities of local marine-based subsistence strategies.

Murujuga’s rock art provides details missing in the ethnohistorical records and from archaeological assemblages.

Fishing scenes enhance our understanding of the maritime fishing toolkit, particularly the prevalence of spears and the rarity of fishing line and hooks.

Murujuga Dynamics of the Dreaming Map

Click on each photo to learn more

Maritime themed rock art enhances our knowledge of Yaburara fishing equipment and practices, and clearly reflects more than just dietary preferences.

All photographs within this monograph were taken by CRAR+M researchers, partners and students, and have been given cultural approval for publication by Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation. Future use of imagery would require additional permissions from Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and CRAR+M.

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