Shark Bay

Shark Bay World Heritage Area

Shark Bay World Heritage Area covers 2.2 million hectares on the coast of Western Australia. Its colourful and diverse landscapes are home for a profusion of animals and plants, including some found nowhere else on Earth. Its vast seagrass meadows feed and shelter globally endangered species. Complex interactions between these plants, the climate and the marine environment have allowed unusual ‘living fossils’, stromatolites, to thrive, much as they did at the dawn of time. Shark Bay’s extraordinary natural riches are of outstanding global significance.

Shark Bay was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1991 for its natural heritage values. To be inscribed, properties must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one of ten selection criteria set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Shark Bay satisfied all four of the natural criteria for World Heritage listing. By satisfying all four natural criteria, Shark Bay ranks as one of our planet’s most important wilderness regions.

  • Natural beauty
  • Earth’s history
  • Ecological processes
  • Biological diversity

By satisfying all four natural criteria, Shark Bay ranks as one of our planet’s most important wilderness regions.

For a full list of the Sharkbay World Heritage Values click on Shark Bay World Heritage Values

Sharkbay World Heritage values
How does the Shark Bay World Heritage Area compare?

As of May 2007, Shark Bay was one of just 20 places on Earth to satisfy all four of the natural criteria for World Heritage listing. Other properties that satisfy all the criteria are the Great Barrier Reef, the Galápagos Islands, and the Grand Canyon. These properties are in countries as diverse as Panama, Canada, China, the Seychelles, New Zealand and Tanzania.

Ningaloo to Shark Bay National Landscape

The area between Ningaloo and Shark Bay has recently been nominated to become a National Landscape – a partnership initiative between tourism and conservation bodies to promote Australia’s world class, high quality visitor experiences and protect our natural and cultural assets.

With so many places of rich beauty, history and cultural significance, National Landscapes aims to make the traveller’s life easier by pointing out those truly iconic, must-see destinations in Australia.

What you’ll find when exploring Ningaloo to Shark Bay:

  • World Heritage listed sites – Shark Bay became a World Heritage site in 1991, and is one of only a handful of sites around the world to meet all four natural criteria to become listed. The Ningaloo Reef has also recently been nominated for World Heritage status.
  • Significant sites around Shark Bay – Numerous sites contribute to the Shark Bay area’s World Heritage status, including the stromatolites at Hamelin Pool and Shell Beach.
  • Cultural significance – Maritime, pioneering and Indigenous history abound between Shark Bay and Ningaloo.
  • Iconic natural events – there’s always something gracing nature’s calendar on the Coral Coast. From whale sharks at Ningaloo to turtle nesting season and dugongs, no matter what time of the year you visit, there will be a natural spectacle on show.
  • Dugong encounters – The Shark Bay Marine Park is home to ten percent of the world’s dugong population, making it one of the largest and most significant populations on earth.
  • The reef of the West – The Ningaloo Reef is Australia’s largest fringing reef, and at some points starts just metres from the shore. There are over 500 fish species and 250 hard and soft corals to explore.

More about National Landscapes
Australia’s National Landscapes program was launched in December 2006 and the program now has 15 monumental landscapes from around Australia that are recognised as part of the initiative. Ningaloo to Shark Bay will be in the company of other extraordinary places around Australia such as Kakadu, the Kimberley, and the Great Ocean Road. Head to the National Landscapes website for more information.