Shark Bay’s Physical Features
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Shark Bay World Heritage Area covers more than 2.2 million hectares and has a coastline more than 1,500 km long. The westernmost part of Australia, it features landscapes and seascapes both colourful and diverse, from red and white sands and turquoise lagoons to plunging cliffs and soaring dunes.
Shark Bay’s shoreline has a ‘W’ shape formed by two peninsulas, Edel Land and Peron, three large outlying islands, and an eastern coastal strip.
Edel Land is typified by rocky limestone and long, white sand dunes. The western side ends abruptly with spectacular cliffs, while the elongated inlets and bays of the eastern side are peppered with small rocky islands.
Dirk Hartog, Dorre and Bernier Islands are elongated limestone islands overlaid with sand dunes.
Peron Peninsula has rolling red sand hills and plains interspersed with salty gypsum hollows, known as birridas.
The coastal strip extending north to Carnarvon features tidal flats and an adjacent low-lying plain.
Dig into some more geology here!
The stunning landscapes of Francois Peron National Park draw visitors from far and wide. Check out the park here!
About 70% of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area is marine. Hemmed by Dirk Hartog, Bernier and Dorre Islands, the warm, sheltered waters average only 9 metres deep and are beautifully patterned with seagrass meadows, channels and banks. They are fringed by tidal flats, mangrove communities or white shell beaches that sweep some 60 km up the coast. To the seaward side of Shark Bay’s islands are deeper waters, where surf crashes against rocky reefs and cliffs.
Shark Bay’s peninsulas, prongs, islands and bays are habitat for a range of plants and animals found in the wild nowhere else on Earth. Shark Bay also features the world’s most abundant marine stromatolites, ‘living fossils’ representing the oldest life forms on our planet. The unique wildlife, rich flora, stunning landscapes and intriguing stromatolites are values of global significance. Discover the meaning of World Heritage here.