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Shark Bay

Shark Bay World Heritage Area


Shark Bay is Australia's largest bay and most westerly point, the place where Euopeans first set foot on Australia and Western Australia's first World Heritage Area.

There are over 360 World Heritage Areas in the world, all of which have exceptional natural or cultural values.

Shark Bay is one of only 16 sites on earth to meet all 4 natural criteria for listing, it ranks in significance alongside the Galapagos Islands, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park and Great Barrier Reef.

The 4 Criteria for World Heritage Listing are:


Outstanding examples representing the major stages of the earth’s evolutionary history.
Shark Bay contains the most diverse and abundant examples of stromatolites in the world. These blue-green algae in Hamelin Pool grow and accumulate sediment forming rock-like lumps, some of which are over 1,000 years old. They are similar to the earliest life-forms which dominated the earth 3,500 million years ago, and produced the oxygen in the atmosphere which allowed air-breathing animals to evolve.

& Outstanding examples representing significant ongoing geological processes, biological evolution and human interaction with the natural environment.
Shark Bay has the largest area of seagrass in the world, and these plants modify its geology and biology. Growth of seagrass and accumulation of sediment has formed the Faure Sill, a shallow bank which restricts tidal flow.  Evaporation from Hamelin Pool causes hypersalinity, with water twice as salty as normal. In such salty conditions the predators of the blue-green algae and the small white cockle cannot survive, and so the stromatolites can thrive and cockles accumulate in their millions on Shell Beach.

Unique, rare or superlative natural phenomena, formations or features of exceptional natural beauty.
The arid landscape, peninsulas, islands and bays create a scenery of exceptional beauty. Zuytdorp Cliffs, Peron Peninsula, Dirk Hartog Island, Shell Beach, the birridas, and dunes are all contrasting neighbours.

Most important and significant habitats where threatened species of animals and plants of exceptional universal value from the point of view of science and conservation still survive.
The only natural wild populations of the banded hare-wallaby, western barred bandicoot and Shark Bay mouse are found on Bernier and Dorre Islands. There are also 13 threatened reptile species, 3 rare bird species, 10% of the world dugong population and significant loggerhead turtle rookeries.

It is also the only place in the world where you can see all this:

A huge variety of marine wildlife.Depending on the time of year you could see loggerhead and green turtles, dolphins, dugong (the origin of the mermaid myth), shark, flying fish or the fish that “walks” on water - the long-tom, sea-snakes, stingrays and many varieties of birds. All of those animals can be seen on sensational, award-winning wildlife cruises, especially in the warmer months.

The Monkey Mia Dolphins

  • The most reliable dolphin meeting place in the world.
  • The dolphins attendance over the last 5 years has a reliability of 99.6%.
  • Routinely eight dolphins visit the Monkey Mia beach however we often have more, the current record stands at 23 dolphins all visiting at once.
  • There is no charge to meet or feed the dolphins. You may swim with the dolphins outside the interaction area, there is no charge for this either.
  • Monkey Mia is the world's most significant dolphin research site.
  • You can join cruises every day to see the dolphins in the wild.

The Dugongs

  • The world's 2nd largest dugong population is at our doorstep.
  • With 15,000 dugong, Shark Bay is the world's most significant dugong behavioural research site and the best place in the world to see dugong.
  • Monkey Mia is the only place in the world where you can see dugong so reliably.

The Tiger Sharks

  • Monkey Mia is the base for the world's most significant Tiger Shark behavioural research.
  • In the last 5 years over 500 tiger sharks have been tagged and released.
  • During the summer months you can join a cruise to watch the research scientists catch and tag tiger sharks up to 4.5 metres long.

The Turtles

  • There are 4 turtle species in Shark Bay.
  • The most common are loggerhead and green turtles. The turtles have been researched for the last 10 years with almost 5,000 turtles having been tagged.
  • Shark Bay is WA's most significant breeding ground for loggerhead turtles.
  • During breeding season you can join a cruise to watch the laying and hatching of eggs.
  • Every day you can see turtles in the wild on a cruise.

The Whales

  • Shark Bay has been visited by 7 different whale species; Humpback, Right, Minke, Pilot, Brydes, Blue and Orca.
  • It is a birthing ground for the Right Whale.
  • You can take a cruise to see Humpback and Right whales in breeding season.

The Rare Birds

  • Shark Bay is a bird watcher's haven with over 230 recorded speicies including:
    • The Dirk Hartog Black and White Fairy Wren, found nowhere else in the world.
    • The endangered Thick Billed Grass Wren, which curiously enough, can be readily seen in the Monkey Mia Visitors Car Park.

The Wildflowers

  • Our region has the longest wildlife season in the state. The three months of July, August and September.