Heading to Western Australia? Don’t Miss Shark Bay!

About as far west as you can possibly travel on the Australian continent, you’ll find yourself in the stunning World Heritage Site of Shark Bay. This picturesque, pristine and one of world’s popular holiday destinations is definitely one worth striking off your bucket list!

Composed of two actual bays separated by the Peron Peninsula, Shark Bay inspires travelers to it’s unique landscapes and attracts visitors from all over the globe. With a keen eye on conservation, Shark Bay manages to handle the yearly influx of tourists in an ecologically responsible fashion. Shark Bay is one of Western Australia’s most sought-after vacation destinations for nature-based leisure, attracting roughly 150,000 visitors each year.

Fishing and seeing the Monkey Mia dolphins used to be the Shark Bay region’s main attractions, but as the location embraces more and more visitors each year, it has gone above and beyond tourists’ expectations. Shark Bay makes a point of managing the area’s tourism industry from a conservation standpoint, making sure that each visitor to this World Heritage site will have the same quality experience as the visitor before them.

Shark Bay’s land and islands boast three distinctive features: almost five thousand square kilometres of sprawling sea-grass beds, a vast dugong or “sea-cow” population, and the Shark Bay stromatolites. Stromatolites are colonies of algae solidified into hard, durable bubble-like deposits, and are widely believed to be one of the oldest forms of life on our planet.

Shark Bay also houses several endangered species, as well as a host of other mammal, reptile, fish and plant species which are considered threatened:

 

Mammals

Shark Bay mouse

Western barred bandicoot

Western barred bandicoot

Western barred bandicoot

Greater bilby

Rufous hare-wallaby (Mala)

Banded hare-wallaby

Shark Bay boodie

Woylie

Greater stick-nest rat

Dugong

Humpback whale

 

Reptiles

Spiny-tailed skink (Egernia stokesii)

 

Woma python

Loggerhead turtle

Green turtle

Leatherback turtle

Hamelin ctenotus

Spiny-tailed skinks of Shark Bay

 

Birds

Malleefowl

Rufous field wrens of Shark Bay

Dirk Hartog Island southern emu-wren

Dirk Hartog black-and-white fairy-wren

Shark Bay variegated fieldwren

 

Fish

Whale shark

 

Plants

Beard’s mallee

 

Shark Bay recognizes the enormous ecotourism potential that lies within their World Heritage Area, and the fact that protecting this special habitat is essential for the life of the many species that call Shark Bay home – and essential for the area’s economy. If managed appropriately, ecotourism in the Shark Bay region will increase education, understanding and enjoyment of the area with minimal impact on the World Heritage protected environment.

Shark Bay offers boat or four-wheel drive tours around the area’s peninsulas, prongs and islands. Boat-based marine wildlife tours are becoming a popular attraction at the local attraction Monkey Mia, where visitors to the region are able to see the dugongs, sharks, rays, turtles and dolphins in person.

For a more personal experience on the waters, sign up for a guided sea-kayaking adventure. These excursions are perfect for exploring the World Heritage Area’s  one and a half thousand kilometres of magnificent coastline. Scenic flights are also proven to be excellent methods of taking in the Shark Bay scenery.

Ecotourism creates  necessary opportunities for modern indigenous people to welcome visitors to their traditional country while simultaneously raising awareness of social issues and respecting the Shark Bay environment.

Four-wheel driving

Four-wheel driving

Shark Bay is a popular vacation destination of local, state, national and international importance. Visitors to this western region of Australia love to join in on activities such as fishing, birdwatching, camping, four-wheel driving, snorkelling and diving, boating, kayaking as well as photography – but by far the most popular things to do is to visit the Monkey Mia dolphins. There are approximately one hundred thousand visitors per year to Monkey Mia!

The Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation manages and maintains the Shark Bay tourism facilities such as the Monkey Mia Visitor Centre, Shark Bay regional campgrounds, the area’s walking tracks and the lookouts.

Bernier and Dorre Islands, two of Shark Bay’s spectacular islands , are the only sanctuary for five of the world’s critically endangered land mammals – four of which occur in the wild nowhere else on Earth. These Shark Bay islands were isolated from the mainland when the sea levels rose over eight thousand years ago, after the last ice age. The animals living on these islands were subsequently protected from the dangers of introduced cats and foxes that depleted so many species elsewhere in Australia.

An ecological restoration mission is in works at Shark Bay’s island, Dirk Hartog Island. This project’s mission is to restore Shark Bay habitats, to remove the island’s feral cats and reintroduce ten species lost from the island during its pastoral era. This mission will also introduce two native Shark Bay species not previously  known to occur on the Dirk Hartog Island.

In other parts of Shark Bay, the local cats, foxes and grazing stock have been removed from the islands in order to give room for the ecosystem to regenerate back to its formative state. Captive-bred species are being introduced to places such as Francois Peron National Park as a part of the region’s Project Eden – a local conservation mission.

A wildlife sanctuary has been established on Faure Island, with the help of The Australian Wildlife Conservancy. After the removal of the many cats and goats,  the conservancy successfully introduced a number of native species.

Aboriginal populations were the first to live in Shark Bay some 30,000 years ago. They were possibly the first indigenous Australians to make contact with the Europeans who came to the continent, and among the first to be described to the Western world by these early European explorers. Since European colonisation, Shark Bay’s Aboriginal people have suffered through exploitation and injustice. Modern Shark Bay aims to celebrate, encourage and recognize the history, traditions, culture, language and achievements of the first people to have walked the lands of this beautiful region and call it home.

Aboriginal people have lived, hunted, and cared for the land and islands of the Shark Bay region for tens of thousands of years, and continue to play an essential role in the region’s social, cultural and economic existence. The local inhabitants are heavily involved in tourism, the fishing industry, as well as conservation and land management. These initiatives have not only helped to conserve and maintain traditional relationships with the land and sea, but have been essential tools for cross-cultural awareness between indigenous and non-indigenous people in and around the Shark Bay area.

 

Monkey Mia

Nestled in the heart of Western Australia’s Shark Bay lies a paradise where you can live a fantasy, and conjure the mystical world of the wild dolphins. The world famous attraction Monkey Mia is one of the globe’s premier natural dolphin viewing sites –  a destination of fantastic encounters. Recognised for the region’s natural beauty, this World Heritage landmark and Gold Winner of the 2006 Western Australian Tourism ‘Major Tourist Attraction’ Award, Monkey Mia along with its accompanying Dolphin Resort continues to draw visitors to it’s popular escape from around the world.

Monkey Mia

Monkey Mia

Situated at famous Dolphin Beach, and well-known for the kilometres of crystal crystal blue waters and pristine white-shell beaches, Monkey Mia continues to draw fascinating schools of  dolphins to the Shark Bay area’s tranquil shores each day for over four decades.

This dolphin sight seeing opportunity is known to be one of the most reliable congregations of dolphins in the entire world.  The Dolphins have visited Shark Bay every day in the last five years save for only four times.  It is the only place in Australia where you can pretty much count on the dolphins visiting each day, instead of seasonally.

With its blue skies and warm sunshine almost every single day of the year, Monkey Mia is the ideal Mediterranean-style holiday zone of the Southern Hemisphere, and the perfect spot for a relaxing vacation, romantic getaway or outback escape. Enjoy the thrill of getting up close and personal with these majestic creatures, right in the vicinity of the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort – mere steps away from your Shark Bay accommodations. You can take part in Monkey Mia’s most indulgent natural assets by cruising, sailing, snorkelling or 4WD’ing the region’s amazing landscape and waters – afterwards, you can  unwind with a beach camel ride, and socialize in Monkey Mia’s spring hot tub before hitting up one of the resort’s fully-licensed restaurants.

 

Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort

Monkey Mia Western Australia
Tel:: +61 8 9948 1320

 

While you’re in Shark Bay, make a point of visiting Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve. The Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve is a protected conservation area located in the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Shark Bay region of Gascogne in Western Australia. Almost one hundred thirty thousand hectares of nature reserve is home to the most diverse and highest concentration of living marine stromatolites – or ‘living fossils – the world has to offer. Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve consists of the eastern major waters within Shark Bay, apart from the western area and separated by the Peron Peninsula, with a lesser water body right alongside its northern border with Faure Island. Along the wild northern region of the Hamelin Pool area you will come across the Wooramel Seagrass Bank. The marine reserve is located next to the historic Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station by roughly thirty kilometres or eighteen miles west of the Overlander Roadhouse on the North West Coastal Highway. You can access the site for free via Hamelin Pool Road and then through the Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station grounds.

 

Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery & Visitor Centre

Address: 55 Knight Terrace, Denham WA 6537, Australia

Phone: +61 8 9948 1590

 

A fantastic stop for Shark Bay visitors of all ages, The Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery & Visitor Centre will entertain you with informative displays and information about this World Heritage listed region. Here you can learn about the ‘real’ Shark Bay, a region filled with natural wonders, world heritage, amazing adventures and historic treasures of Aboriginal Australians, Dutch, English and French explorers.

The Centre celebrates the biodiversity of Shark Bay and its ecosystems, and displays the region’s World Heritage listing criteria, the phenomenal natural landscape, the scenic bays, islands, pristine lagoons, marine and terrestrial landforms and animals. Shark Bay is one of only 16 sites worldwide that proudly satisfies all four of the criteria required for the World Heritage listing, featuring 10 percent of the world dugong sea-cow population, and is the home to a wide variety of dolphins, whales, manta rays, turtles, sharks, fish species and rare Australian marsupials.

The Centre educates visitors about the Shark Bay region through its artifacts, models, photographic art galleries, specimens, illustrations, dioramas and electronic media. The Centre also aims to encourage awareness of Indigenous and European culture, maritime and pastoral history, as well as the flora and fauna of the Shark Bay region. The Centre’s exhibits showcase some of the most colorful and enthralling stories from the residents of Shark Bay, including intriguing interviews conducted with scientists and CALM (Conservation And Land Management) officers. The Centre is set up as three different galleries: Living Place, Mapping Place and Experiencing Place . The various displays guide you through the facility on a most captivating journey around Shark Bay and spanning time, in the presence of those who have long been an essential part of this extraordinary part of the world.

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