Shark Bay

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Shark Bay
Shark Bay phytoplankton bloom

Phytoplankton bloom from Shark Bay

Waters Indian Ocean
Land mass Australia
Geographical location 25 ° 30 ′  S , 113 ° 30 ′  E Coordinates: 25 ° 30 ′  S , 113 ° 30 ′  E
Shark Bay (Western Australia)
Shark Bay
surface 10,000 km²
Stromatolite colony at Hamelin Pool

Stromatolite colony at Hamelin Pool

The Shark Bay is a bay on the west coast of Australia about 800 kilometers north of Perth in the state of Western Australia . The term is ambiguous because it concerns

William Dampier named the area "Shark Bay" in 1699 because of the many sharks that occur there. A total of 28 different shark species are native to the bay. In addition, the westernmost point of mainland Australia is still known for its dolphins .

Geographical breakdown

The bay itself has an area of ​​about 10,000 km². The average water depth is 9-10 m; the shallow water is divided by sandbars.

The political municipality Shire of Shark Bay covers an area of ​​25,423 km² and has 1000 inhabitants. On the mainland there are two roadhouses (gas stations and supply stations) - Overlander and Billabong . Incidentally, the area is divided into an island approximately 76 kilometers long and two large main peninsulas , which in turn are divided by numerous smaller peninsulas with small islands in front of them.

Northeast Peninsula

The northeastern peninsula, approx. 120 kilometers long, is, apart from its tip for about 25 kilometers, accessible by an asphalt road through low acacia bushes. The most famous tourist attractions are on this route:

  • In the Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve in the south of the bay there are microbes that form stromatolites , similar to the oldest known life forms on earth.
  • The white Shell Beach consists of millions of small cockles of the species Fragum erugatum for about 40 kilometers around L'Haridon Bay .
  • Eagle Bluff is a popular cliff-top lookout at Shark Bay Marine Park.
  • Denham , the only town on Shark Bay, was founded by the Australian pearl fishermen in 1898.
  • Monkey Mia is the center of dolphin tourism. Supported by organized feeding programs, up to 10 animals come to the seashore several times a day.
  • The tip of the peninsula, the François-Péron National Park , can only be accessed with a four-wheel drive vehicle. The nature reserve with bushland and rust-red sand dunes offers habitats for numerous endangered animal species.

Southwest Peninsula

Sand slopes open up the Edel Land on approx. 80 kilometers to Useless Loop , a salt mine established in 1962. The site is only accessible with a special permit.

Dirk Hartog Island

Only separated by a small strait, Dirk Hartog Island continues the southern peninsula by approx. 76 km to the west and thus also constitutes the westernmost point of Australia. Dirk Hartog docked here with his sailing ship Eendracht on October 25, 1616 ; this is the first known documentary that a European has set foot on Australian soil. On arrival, Captain Hartog nailed a labeled tin plate to a wooden post, which Willem de Vlamingh replaced with his own in 1697 because he claimed the discovery of the country for himself. Today the cape is called Cape Inscription in reminiscence of this land grab ; Hartog's original plaque is in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam , and de Vlamingh's in the Fremantle Maritime Museum .

At the beginning of the 21st century, a contemporary catamaran named Eendracht opens up the island with the Dirk Hartog Island National Park for day trippers. Bush walks, snorkeling, fishing, and whale watching are preferred activities for campers who use 4 × 4 vehicles for a longer stay.

Shark Bay UNESCO World Heritage Site

Map of Shark Bay

Shark Bay is an area of ​​great zoological importance. Since 1991 she is therefore part of the UNESCO - World Heritage of Humanity . It is the first region in Western Australia to receive this award. The protected area covers approximately 23,000 km², inclusive

and numerous protected islands.

The municipal administration in Denham initially rejected the award because they feared restrictions on fishing and the closure of the Useless Loop salt flats. However, a decision about the award was made centrally in Canberra. The community is now benefiting from growing tourism as Shark Bay has become more popular. Since large parts of the country are still difficult to access, this tourism is concentrated selectively and does not pose a threat to wildlife.

In addition to the famous dolphins of Monkey Mia, about 10,000 fork-tailed manatees ( dugongs , a species of manatee ) live in Shark Bay, as well as sea ​​turtles , rays , sea ​​snakes , whales and many sharks, including one of the largest populations of tiger sharks in the bay . In addition, numerous fish , crustaceans and cnidarians grow up in the bay .

Some of the bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay use tools to forage. They look for sponges on the seabed and put them over their snouts to protect their snouts when they search for food in the sandy seabed. This is one of the rare cases of tool use in marine animals .

With an area of ​​over 4,000 km², the underwater world of Shark Bay Marine Park constitutes the largest seagrass area known worldwide .

The bushland is a habitat for 26 threatened mammal species , over 230 bird species and nearly 100 reptile species .


  • Günther, Janine / Mohr, Jens: Westaustralien und das Top End, Verlag 360 °, 1st edition 2005

Web links

Commons : Shark Bay  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Shark Bay  Travel Guide

Individual evidence

  1. Department of Parks and Wildlife: Shark Bay / Fish ( Memento of the original from November 26, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. Department of Parks and Wildlife: Shark Bay / Tiger Shark ( Memento of the original from January 7, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /