World Heritage Area

Shark Bay World Heritage Area covers 2.2 million hectares on the coast of Western Australia. Its colourful and diverse landscapes are home for a profusion of animals and plants, including some found nowhere else on Earth. Its vast seagrass meadows feed and shelter globally endangered species. Complex interactions between these plants, the climate and the marine environment have allowed unusual ‘living fossils’, stromatolites, to thrive, much as they did at the dawn of time.

Shark Bay’s extraordinary natural riches are of outstanding global significance. Shark Bay was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1991 for its natural heritage values. To be inscribed, properties must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one of ten selection criteria set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Shark Bay satisfied all four of the natural criteria for World Heritage listing. By satisfying all four natural criteria, Shark Bay ranks as one of our planet’s most important wilderness regions.

How does the Shark Bay World Heritage Area compare?

As of May 2007, Shark Bay was one of just 20 places on Earth to satisfy all four of the natural criteria for World Heritage listing. Other properties that satisfy all the criteria are the Great Barrier Reef, the Galápagos Islands, and the Grand Canyon. These properties are in countries as diverse as Panama, Canada, China, the Seychelles, New Zealand and Tanzania.