The Nature of Shark Bay

Shark Bay World Heritage Area is one of the most important natural treasures on Earth. In 1991 it was ranked alongside places such as the Galápagos Islands, the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon as a site of global environmental significance.
Shark Bay has species, scenery and situations that are either unusual or unique on the planet. Its many notable features include


Shark Bay has the world’s most diverse and abundant examples of marine stromatolites. Similar to life forms found up to 3.5 billion years ago, these ‘living fossils’ have helped scientists unravel the history of life on Earth. Solve the mystery of the stromatolites here.


Shark Bay’s geology has created exceptional scenery, from red and white sands and turquoise lagoons to plunging cliffs and soaring dunes. It was formed by ancient processes as well as modern-day animals and plants, particularly seagrasses. These plants have shaped the seafloor and created an unusual hypersaline environment, which has in turn influenced the ecosystem. Learn more about rocks, and the role of seagrass, here.


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 call Shark Bay home. It is also an important place for migratory species, including shorebirds from the Northern Hemisphere and humpback whales. Discover the animals of Shark Bay here.


Located at the meeting point of two botanical provinces, Shark Bay is exceedingly rich in plants. At least 820 species can be found, including 53 endemic species, many rare and threatened species, and the world’s most expansive and diverse seagrass meadows. Shark Bay’s unusual tree heath and spectacular spring wildflowers are also scenic and scientific wonders. Leaf through our plant pages here.

Threatened species

Shark Bay is a safe haven for some of the world’s most endangered species, including the loggerhead turtle, green turtle, dugong and four species of mammal found in the wild nowhere else on Earth. Meet some of our rarer residents here.

Conservation opportunities

Shark Bay’s isolated islands and peninsulas provide an opportunity to protect species threatened or extinct elsewhere in Australia due to introduced predators, habitat destruction and other human impacts. Find out about efforts to conserve Shark Bay’s species here.

World Heritage Areas represent and embody the diversity of the planet, and the achievements of its peoples. You can learn more about the meaning of World Heritage listing here.