Shark Bay World Heritage Site, Australia – March 1st, 2009
Shark Bay, in the upper left quadrant, is a world heritage site in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia. It is located over 800 kilometres north of Perth, on the westernmost point of Australia.
The bay itself covers an area of 10,000 km², with an average depth of 10 metres. It is divided by shallow banks and has many peninsulas and islands. The coastline is over 1,500 km long.
It is located in the transition zone between three major climatic regions and between two major botanical provinces.
Shark Bay was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1991. The site covers an area of 23,000 square kilometres. It includes many protected areas and conservation reserves, including Shark Bay Marine Park, Francois Peron National Park, Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve, Zuytdorp Nature Reserve and numerous protected islands.
Dirk Hartog Island (far left) is of major historic significance due to early explorers landing upon it.
Bernier and Dorre islands in the north west corner of the Heritage area are locations of some last remaining habitats of some Australian mammals threatened with extinction.
Shark Bay is an area of major zoological importance. The area supports 26 threatened Australian mammal species, over 230 species of bird, and nearly 150 species of reptile.
Shark Bay is home to about 10,000 dugongs (sea cows), and there are many dolphins, particularly at Monkey Mia.
It is an important breeding and nursery ground for fish, crustaceans, and coelenterates. There are 323 fish species, with many sharks and rays.
Shark Bay has the largest known area of seagrass, with seagrass meadows covering over 4000 km² of the bay. It includes the 1030 km² Wooramel Seagrass Bank, the largest seagrass bank in the world.
Shark Bay also contains the largest number of seagrass species ever recorded in one place; twelve species have been found, with up to nine occurring together in some places.