Shark Bay’s Conservation Significance

In 2004, Shark Bay was one of fewer than 20 natural sites in the world that satisfy all four of the criteria for World Heritage listing. Other sites that meet all four of the criteria include the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Galápagos Islands.

Shark Bay’s many notable features include:

  • The world’s most diverse and abundant examples of living marine stromatolites. These ‘living fossils’ have helped scientists unravel Earth’s evolutionary history.
  • Habitat for some of the world’s most endangered species, including the loggerhead turtle, green turtle, dugong and four species of mammal found nowhere else on Earth.
  • At least 100 species of reptile and amphibian, 240 species of bird, 820 species of fish and more than 80 coral and 218 bivalve species. Shark Bay is also an important site for migratory species including wading birds from the Northern Hemisphere and humpback whales.
  • At least 820 species of plant, including Earth’s most expansive and diverse seagrass populations. Covering some 4,000 km2, the seagrass meadows have modified the entire marine environment – an impressive example of an ongoing geological process.
  • Many endemic species and subspecies of plants and animals, as well as species at the limit of their geographic range.
  • The meeting point of three climatic zones and two botanical provinces. This makes Shark Bay of interest to scientists studying the factors that limit species distribution, adaptation and abundance.
  • Exceptional coastal scenery, from red and white sands and turquoise lagoons to plunging cliffs and soaring dunes.

Aerial view of the seagrass banks on Faure Sill

Shark Bay is home to the world's largest and most diverse seagrass banks.