Invertebrates of Shark Bay

Shark Bay is crammed with invertebrate life, both on the land and in the water. The land invertebrates are relatively poorly known although surveys of spiders, centipedes and millipedes suggest that the diversity of invertebrates is high. In one survey 169 species of ground spider and 34 trapdoor spiders were found! Seventeen millipede and centipede species have been recorded in Shark Bay.

Shark Bay also has a high diversity of marine invertebrates.

Divers can enjoy exploring the 80 or more coral species flourishing around Dirk Hartog Island and Bernier and Dorre Islands, and in South Passage. Hard corals abound, including vase, plate and brain corals and a great variety of colourful staghorn species. Amongst these are many soft corals, nudibranchs, anemones, brittle stars and cowries, nestling among the sponges on the reef.

Banana prawns, brown tiger prawns and western king prawns are all found in the region, which supports a significant prawn fishery. Scallops, squid and lobsters are also important to commercial and recreational fishers, and pearl oysters are cultured and farmed.

The intertidal flats and shores of Shark Bay support a thriving community of crabs and snails, while the sandy shallows are home to at least 218 bivalve species! The region’s best-known bivalve is the burrowing Hamelin or Heart cockle, Fragum erugatum. Want to know how a little shell helped build a coastline – and a town? Find out here.

For more information about Western Australian wildlife check out the WA Museum Fauna Base

Hard corals are found in patches around Shark Bay