Daily Archives: January 23, 2009

Shark Bay

Posted by on January 23, 2009

World Heritage Site #41: Shark Bay

Shark Bay: My 41st UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for Shark Bay:

On the Indian Ocean coast at the most westerly point of Australia, Shark Bay’s waters, islands and peninsulas covering a large area of some 2.2 million hectares (of which about 70% are marine waters) have a number of exceptional natural features, including one of the largest and most diverse seagrass beds in the world. However, it is for its stromatolites (colonies of microbial mats that form hard, dome-shaped deposits which are said to be the oldest life forms on earth), that the property is most renowned. The property is also famous for its rich marine life including a large population of dugongs and provides a refuge for a number of other globally threatened species.

One of the superlative natural phenomena present in this property is its stromatolites, which represent the oldest form of life on Earth and are comparable to living fossils. Shark Bay is also one of the few marine areas in the world dominated by carbonates not associated with reef-building corals. This has led to the development of the Wooramel Seagrass Bank within Shark Bay, one of the largest seagrass meadows in the world with the most seagrass species recorded from one area. These values are supplemented by marine fauna such as dugong, dolphins, sharks, rays, turtles and fish, which occur in great numbers.

The hydrologic structure of Shark Bay, altered by the formation of the Faure Sill and a high evaporation, has produced a basin where marine waters are hypersaline (almost twice that of seawater) and contributed to extensive beaches consisting entirely of shells. The profusion of peninsulas, islands, and bays create a diversity of landscapes and exceptional coastal scenery.

While I was able to visit Kakadu and Purnululu during the right time of year, I probably visited Shark Bay at the wrong time of year. It would have been much better to visit during the Australian summer. Nonetheless, I got to see the one thing I really wanted to see at Shark Bay…..stromatolites!

Here is the podcast episode on stromatolites I shot in Hamilne Pool:


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 10, 2017 @ 12:54 am