Shark Bay, Western Australia
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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 sq. km) 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.
The Shark Bay region represents a meeting point of three major climatic regions and forms a transition zone between two major botanical provinces-the South West and Eremaean provinces.
The Shark Bay region is an area of major zoological importance, primarily due to habitats on peninsulas and islands being isolated from the disturbance that has occurred elsewhere. Of the 26 species of endangered Australian mammals, five are found on Bernier and Dorre Islands. These are the boodie or burrowing bettong, rufous hare wallaby, banded hare wallaby, the Shark Bay mouse and the western barred bandicoot.
The Shark Bay region has a rich avifauna with over 230 species, or 35 per cent, of Australia's bird species having been recorded. A number of birds attain their northern limit here, such as the regent parrot, western yellow robin, blue-breasted fairy wren and striated pardalote.
The region is also noted for the diversity of its amphibians and reptiles, supporting nearly 100 species. Again, many species are at the northern or southern limit of their range. The area is also significant for the variety of burrowing species, such as the sandhill frog, which, apparently, needs no surface water. Shark Bay contains three endemic sand swimming skinks, and 10 of the 30 dragon lizard species found in Australia.
Sources and links:
Other World Heritage Sites in Australia (on this site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Australia-section, for further information about such sites.
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Revised 01 jul 2007