Package Holidays in Western Australia
Shark Bay World Heritage RegionThe abundance of natural wonders, unique flora and unique fauna has caused Shark Bay to be gazetted as World Heritage. It is famous for many rare species and is home to around a tenth of the world's dugong population. The first European to set foot on Australian soil was Dirk Hartog. The Island where this took place is named after him. Monkey Mia famed for the numerous bottlenose dolphins that decide to interact with humans is located in Shark Bay also.
Shark Bay World Heritage
The Shark Bay World Heritage area is a series of gulfs, inlets, islands and bays and is split in two by the Peron Peninsula on Australias Coral Coast. Shark Bay World Heritage Area includes the nature reserves of Dirk Hartog, Bernier and Dorre islands and protects a 55% marine and 45% land environment. It is such an astounding compilation of naturally occurring rarities that it is no wonder it was placed on the World Heritage List in December of 1991. Shark Bay was one of only 11 places on the World Heritage Register to satisfy all criteria for being included on the List.
Hamelin Pool Stromatolites
The stromatolites at Hamelin Pool represent an outstanding example of the earths evolutionary history. Just south of Monkey Mia, this massive occurrence of stromatolites is easily accessible by way of an educational boardwalk at Hamelin Bay. Stromatolites are the earliest known form of life on earth.
The low tidal flow in Shark Bay has created hypersalination, a level of salt twice that of normal seawater. In these salty pools, stromatolites grow at a rate of less than 1mm per year. A microorganism, cyanobacteria build up, trapping fine sediment particles from the warm water and binding it together with mucus. This unusual life form grows to about 60cm tall and look like mushroom-shaped rocky domes. The discovery of these living fossils was akin to finding a live dinosaur.
The Wooramel Seagrass Bank is a further reasons for the profusion of life within Shark Bay. This massive vegetation is the foundation for the whole ecosystem.
The Wooramel Bank in Shark Bay is the worlds largest seagrass meadow, covering 1030 square kilometres and stretching for 129km along the coast. It has 12 varieties of seagrass and it has taken over 5000 years to reach its present size. Its survival and maintenance is of utmost importance to the survival of all species in Shark Bay.
It is a major habitat and food source for many creatures like rare dugongs and turtles, in turn, the waste products in the seagrass provide food for filter feeders such as oysters and scallops. Small plants and animals find a home by attaching themselves to the seagrass, which are then eaten by larger fish and crustaceans. Seagrass also provides a good hiding place and nursery ground for small and delicate animals like prawns.
Shark Bay Climate
The Shark Bay area near Monkey Mia is the meeting point of different climate zones.
This part of Australias Coral Coast is also the transition zone between the types of eucalypt-dominated plants of the southwest and the acacia-dominated species of the eremean regions of Western Australia with lower, irregular rainfall. Shark Bay also marks the most northern point for cold-water marine species from the south, and for the warm-water tropical species from the north. Quite simply, Shark Bay has a perfect environment for one of the most diverse and valuable wildlife habitats on earth.
Monkey Mia Dolphins
The wild dolphins of Monkey Mia not only are these creatures in abundance within the park but they also swim right into shore regularly to interact with humans at their own volition from the wild.
The dugong population of Shark Bay is a 14,000-strong breeding group. This area of Australias Coral Coast supports an amazing one-eighth of the worlds entire population of rare dugong. These shy and elusive mammals are regularly sighted in the warm waters and extensive seagrass beds in Shark Bay which has been established to be the largest and most stable dugong population in the world.
Shark Bay Humpback Whales
Humpback Whales cruise down the coast in numbers between June and October on their way to southern breeding grounds.
There are also large numbers of beautiful, elegant Manta Rays, sharks, sea snakes, rare turtles, and other species that is endangered in the rest of the world live happily in the Shark Bay World Heritage Region.
Bird watching is excellent around Shark Bays grassland, heath, mangrove and seashore habitats.
Molluscs, hermit crabs and other crustaceans and invertebrates can be found on the intertidal flats and shores of Shark Bay, as well as the productive pearl farm in the bay.
Dirk Hartog Islands
Dorre, Bernier and Dirk Hartog Islands also provide excellent habitats for endangered wildlife. Of Australia's 26 species of mammals that are threatened with extinction, 5 are found on the Bernier and Dorre Islands Nature Reserve.
The Shark Bay World Heritage Area is one of the most important areas on the face of the globe.