ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Australia's Top Tourism Treasures - Shark Bay

Updated on March 25, 2010

Shark Bay, Western Australia

The wide inlet known as Shark Bay is a jewel on the Western Australian coast. Shark Bay's location in a transition zone between cold and warm ocean currents and tropical and temperate climates gives it a rich and glorious array of fauna. The sea-grass meadows here are the largest in the world and home to an estimated 10,000 dugongs, 10 percent of the world's population, and 6,000 marine turtles, including Western Australia's largest community of loggerhead turtles. Onshore, the marginal desert lands, with their sandy soils and their low, scrub-covered hills, are a refuge for endangered species, including 26 types of mammals, 13 kinds of reptiles, and three bird species.

More than 700 kinds of wildflowers grow here, and in spring their blooms blanket the usually barren soil. Moreover, alongside its many spectacular landforms, the precipitous Zuytdorp Cliffs, the wild Peron Peninsula, and Dirk Hartog Island, site of the first recorded landing of a European in Australia, Shark Bay incorporates significant geological curiosities including a beach made entirely of shells and the world's largest colony of stromatolites, Earth's earliest known life-form.

Standing on the beach is one of many ways to make contact with the dolphins of Monkey Mia. Twice daily, two catamarans set off from the town's jetty. This is not conventional cruising: the sails are unfurled and visitors perch on the edges of the deep-sea sailing vessels as they weave their way around the bay locating a wealth of marine life. Dolphins race beside the catamarans, riding the bow waves, and curious dugongs pause to investigate the disturbance as they surface for air. These magnificent creatures, sometimes known as sea pigs or sea cows and once called mermaids by sailors, are close relatives of the manatees that inhabit the Caribbean. Placid and generally timid, they can grow to a length of about 10 feet, live for 70 years, and reach a weight of 880 pounds. Sharks and orcas are their main predators, and in the past decade pods of dugongs have twice been attacked here by orcas.

From a distance, Shell Beach, 47 miles (75 km) south of Monkey Mia, appears to be just another stunning Western Australian beach: pure white, gently undulating dunes edged by calm, clear waters. But this beach is quite extraordinary: it is made entirely of millions of small, white shells. In places up to 33 feet deep, these are the shells of cardiid cockles. Like the stromatolites found farther down the coast, the cockles thrive in the high levels of salinity created by the protected, shallow bay, while their natural predators are deterred. As a result, the shells have accumulated in immense numbers over the past 4,000 years.

One intriguing result of these deposits has been the formation of a kind of shell-rich sedimentary rock, known as coquina limestone. This has become a popular building material around Shark Bay, and in the town of Denham several buildings, including a local restaurant, are built entirely out of coquina limestone blocks. The rough-hewn effect resembles pale sandstone embedded with thousands of tiny fossil shells.

Continued in: Australia's Top Tourism Treasures - Shark Bay & Stirling Range National Park

Back To Start


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)