If there is one unique place that every nature lover should visit, or, add to the top of their bucket list, it should be Shark Bay. The bay was aptly named in 1699 by an English buccaneer William Dampier, the second European to land at the place, due to a large presence of sharks in the surrounding waters. The first European on the bay was a gentleman called Dirk Hartog who landed on the bay in 1616.
Shark Bay is a coastal strip and a host of small islands that gives the world three unique features. These features include: a 4800 square kilometers sea grass bed that has the largest variety of species in the world; an 11000 strong dugong population; and colonies of algae that represents the earliest forms of life on earth.
The beautiful terrain of Shark Bay mainland comprises of lush green rolling hills that forms the boundary of one of the most idyllic embayment in the world. The embayment occupies an area measuring 13,000 square kilometers. The bay area is enclosed by a series of island that blocks direct contact with the sea water which comes through the South Passage to the south of the bay and through the Naturaliste Chanel in the north.
The saline conditions of the water differ as you move south forming 3 distinct ecosystems. In more than 3000 million years of the earth’s existence, only microbes could live on the planet. The microbes would decline as more and more organisms found their way into the earth. One of these organisms happened to be algae. Presence of algae in Shark Bay was the reason why in 1991 UNESCO recognized it as a World Heritage Site.
Apart from its botanical importance, Shark Bay is also a World Heritage Site in terms of zoological diversity. The bay is home to 23 species of endemic mammal species of which 5 are to be found on the Bernier and Dorre Islands. You will be lucky if you can find mammals such as burrowing bettong or Shar Baymouse anywhere else.
You would be interested to know that there are a lot of hidden aboriginal sites to explore on the Peron Peninsula as well as Dirk Hartog Islands. Nature lovers can also enjoy the sightings of sharks and ray fish. Sharks species found here include tiger shark, hammerheads and whalers.