At the most westerly point of the Australian continent, Shark Bay, with its islands and the land surrounding it, has three exceptional natural features: its vast sea-grass beds, which are the largest (4,800 km2) and richest in the world; its dugong (‘sea cow’) population; and its stromatolites (colonies of algae which form hard, dome-shaped deposits and are among the oldest forms of life on earth). Shark Bay is also home to five species of endangered mammals.
- It is home to about 10,000 dugongs (sea cows), around 12.5% of the world’s population.
- The amazing ecosystem also includes the largest number of seagrass species ever recorded in one place. Twelve species have been found, with up to nine occurring together in some places.
- The seagrass banks have a large amount of sediments deposited at their roots and this has raised the sea floor considerably. Further, due to the hot climate and restriction of the flow of tidal waters through the bay area, thanks to the sea grass, the water around the bay is almost twice as salty as compared to the rest of the sea.
Year of Inscription: 1991
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