Vegetation Types in Shark Bay

Link to vegetation map of Shark Bay

For a Shark Bay vegetation map click here (1.56mb).

Shark Bay is a warm, dry, wind-swept region and although it has no tall forests or woodlands it does boast a variety of other kinds of plant communities, including seagrass meadows, shrublands, mangroves and low, wind-pruned heath. Because it is the transition point between two major botanical provinces it is very species-rich. The significance and richness of Shark Bay’s plants contributed to its listing as a World Heritage Area.

Two botanical zones

Map of Western Australia's botanical provinces

Shark Bay’s vegetation features plants of both the arid and temperate botanical provinces.

  • South West Botanical Province: Dominated by plants typical of cooler, wetter southwestern Australia. These include members of the Proteaceae (banksia and grevilleas) and Myrtaceae (eucalyptus, melaleuca, thryptomene and verticordia) families. Such species are common on the southern part of Nanga, the eastern part of Tamala pastoral lease, and the Zuytdorp Nature Reserve.
  • Eremaean Province: Dominated by desert-adapted species such as Acacia (wattle), samphire and spinifex. Vegetation on Peron Peninsula is mainly Eremaean. Monkey Mia, for example, is heavily populated by limestone wattle (Acacia sclerosperma), bowgada (Acacia ramulosa), kurara or dead finish (Acacia tetragonophylla) and dune wattle or umbrella bush (Acacia ligulata). Hakeas and grevilleas, plants of cooler climes, reach their northern limit on Peron. Spinifex hummocks occur on its southern reaches.

Where the zones overlap

Map of botanical provinces in Shark Bay

The two botanical zones overlap in a region known as the tree heath. The most diverse plant community in Shark Bay, the tree heath is found on the southern parts of Nanga and Tamala pastoral lease down to the inland section of Zuytdorp Nature Reserve. Find out more about this special community here.

For more information about Western Australian plants check out the West Australian Herbarium’s FloraBase.