why is shark bay a world heritage site

Where Is Shark Bay? Shark Bay is located in the Indian Ocean, off the western coast of Australia, and
is considered the most westerly point of the Australian continent. It covers an area of 5,429,647 acres (70% of which is water). It is comprised of 3 unique features: a large population of dugongs (large marine animals), stromatolites, and large seagrass beds. In order to protect these significant characteristics, Shark Bay and its islands were enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. This article takes a closer look at the importance of Shark Bay and the way in which this World Heritage Site is managed. A dugong. Why Is Shark Bay A UNESCO World Heritage Site? Of the three previously mentioned unique features found at Shark Bay, perhaps the most important is the presence of stromatolites. Stromatolites are hard, rounded deposits created by colonies of algae. Colonies such as these were once the most common features of marine life, being the primary life found in seas for more than three billion years. Today, they are considered living fossils and are the oldest form of life in the world. The stromatolites of Shark Bay are significant for being the first algae colonies discovered in modern times that share similar characteristics with the stromatolites from the Proterozoic era. Additionally, the waters found in Shark Bay are heavy with carbonates.


In most instances, carbonates originate from coral reef systems. That is not the case in Shark Bay, making it one of the only places in the world where this particular type of carbonate can be found. The presence of these carbonates has resulted in growth of the Wooramel Seagrass Bank. Not only is this seagrass bed the largest in the world, but it is also home to the widest variety of seagrass plant and animal species (12 different specie types to be exact). This area is also home to a number of other animals including: dolphins, turtles, rays, sharks, and dugong (also known as sea cows). Shark Bay harbors many other valuable characteristics. It is home to five endangered species and an area that are hypersaline, which results in beaches that are primarily made up of seashells. Researchers find this area significant for research efforts in both biological and geomorphic evolutionary processes. Biologically, because the plant and animal species here are currently undergoing speciation; geomorphically, because the hydrological and hypersaline systems are also continually evolving. Shark Bay is conserved and protected by several treaties, regulations, and organizations. Not only is this site managed as a World Heritage Site, but it is also divided into various national parks, nature reserves, and pastoral leases. The Western Australian government is charged with administering all strategic planning concerning Shark Bay according to the World Heritage Convention guidelines.


In response to this responsibility, the government created a ministerial council, a scientific advisory committee, and a community consultative committee to help with planning, administration, and management. These decision-making bodies worked together to create the 2008-2020 Shark Bay World Heritage Property Strategic Plan which plans to help facilitate an administrative relationship between the government and local communities. As with all World Heritage Sites located in Australia, any activity that may affect Shark Bay must adhere to the regulations set forth by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999. Shark Bay World Heritage Area became Western Australia's first world heritage listed area in 1991. It is one of two World Heritage areas within WA and one of only 16 Australia wide. Shark Bay World Heritage Area is a testimony to the wonders of the natural world. The Aboriginal name for Shark Bay is Gathaagudu meaning two bays. The Indigenous people of Shark Bay are descendants of the Malgana tribe. They are the traditional owners of the Shark Bay area and are one of twelve language groups to be found in the Yamatji region which extends from in the north, to in the south and across to Sandstone in the east.


Famous for its friendly, there are few places in the world where you can experience marine wonders as you can in Shark Bay. On any visit, you're likely to spot turtles, dolphins, manta rays, whales and dugongs, be it on a boat or from the shore and at the end of it all, just relax amongst the stunning white beaches, crystal clear waters and rust-red sand dunes. Shark Bay World Heritage Areas wilderness and natural wonders make for a truly unique holiday. Meet the wild bottlenose Monkey Mia dolphins who visit See the ancient, only one of three stromatolite sites in the world Marvel at, 70km long and 10metres deepPof white cockle shells Explore where the red-dirt desert meets the ocean atP If you love wildlife, you will love Shark Bay. The Marine Park is Australias largest marine embayment, with more than 1500 kilometres of meandering coastline. The bay is home to a myriad of aquatic wildlife including dolphins, dugongs, manta rays and turtles and some 17 species of mammals including humpback whales, 98 species of reptiles and amphibians including the thorny devil and more than 230 species of birds. And because of these creatures, Shark Bay is a popular destination for divers, snorkelers, and nature lovers. P While in, discover the whole story of the area's natural and historical treasures at the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre.


With soundscapes, historic and contemporary film footage, multimedia interactive and objects of rare scientific and historic significance, take a journey around Shark Bay. P Francois Peron National Park and in particular Bottle Bay boasts stunning scenery as rust red sand dunes, or take in the expansive views of bright white sand and vivid blue oceanPfrom SkipJack Point. Big Lagoon and are twoPgreats place for swimming, kayaking and a relaxing family barbeque. Steep Point is the most western point in the country and features the magnificent, towering 170m above sea level. Accessible is by four-wheel drive only, visitors must bring all their own supplies and drinking water. For those who like a little seclusion, offers a peaceful retreat of beautiful scenery and private white sandy beaches. Boat and air tours need to be pre-booked. At Hamelin Pool Marine and Nature Reserve you can view the oldest and largest living fossils in the world, the Stromatolites. At nearby Shell Beach, marvel at this beautiful snow-white beach made up of millions of tiny shells up to 10 metres deep and stretching for over 70 kilometres. Some 20 kilometres south of Denham, offers a birds eye view of the surrounding. For more information, or to book your visit to the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, visit the or call +61 8 9948 1590.

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