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.
What Does World Heritage Listing Mean?
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:
- 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.
As of May 2007, Shark Bay was one of just 20 places on Earth to satisfy all four natural criteria for World Heritage listing. Others are the Great Barrier Reef, the Galápagos Islands and the Grand Canyon.
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 in Australia, the National Landscapes initiative aims to make the traveller’s life easier by pointing out those truly iconic, must-see destinations.
Fifteen landscapes from around Australia are recognised as National Landscapes, including Kakadu, the Kimberley and the Great Ocean Road.
Why Ningaloo to Shark Bay is such a special area:
- World Heritage Listing Shark Bay is a World Heritage Area (see this page for more info). The Ningaloo Reef has also recently been nominated for World Heritage status.
- Significant Sites Numerous sites contribute to the Shark Bay 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.
- 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 Ningaloo Reef Australia's largest fringing reef is home to more than 500 fish species and 250 hard and soft corals. At some points the reef is visible just metres from the shore.