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.
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.
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.