SHARK BAY WORLD HERITAGE AREA
Major stages of the world's evolutionary history
Visitors are encouraged to look closely at Shark Bay's unusual natural beauty. Plan to spend time exploring the pristine bays, inlets and islands. Discover for yourself some of the rare plants, mammals and birds found only in Shark bay.
The shallow waters of the Shark Bay Marine Park abound with a myriad of marine life. Vast seagrass meadows are home to the most secure populations of dugongs in the World. Around 10,000 dugongs forage in the shallow marine environment of Shark Bay. The clear waters give visitors the chance to view dugongs, manta rays, marine turtles and humpback whales, and the famous dolphins of Monkey Mia visit the beach each day to interact with visitors.
More info about this natural wonderland is at the Official Shark Bay World Heritage Site.
• • • • THE FIRST ARRIVALS • • • •
Aboriginal people inhabited Shark Bay for thousands of years and evidence of their presence can still be seen in numerous cave shelters and shell middens around Peron Peninsula. They were probably among the first Australian Aboriginals who had contact with Europeans.
The first European landing recorded in Australia took place in October 1616 when Dutch Sea Captain Dirk Hartog landed at Cape Inscription on the island that now bears his name, leaving behind an inscribed pewter plate recording his visit. Hartog's plate was rediscovered 81 years later in 1697 by another Dutch Captain - William De Vlamingh, who replaced the original with one of his own.
Vlamingh returned Hartog's plate to Holland where it can be seen today on display at the Rijkes Museum. Vlamingh's plate is on display at the Fremantle Maritime Museum in Western Australia.
A succession of English and French explorers followed, William Dampier named the area Sharks bay in 1699 and a Frenchman - Francois St. Allouarn laid formal claim to the territory for France in 1772.
Dirk Hartog's discovery took place 152 years before Captain James Cook set out on his much
publicised voyage of discovery to the Pacific and Australia's eastern shores.
• • • • HAMELIN POOL • • • •
Evidence of the beginnings of life on Earth can be found in the saline waters of Hamelin Pool - the famous stromatolites. Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve is one of only two places in the world where living marine stomatolites are known to occur and it is the only place where they can easily be seen from shore.
Microscopic organisms - invisible to the human eye -concentrate and recycle nutrients which combine with sedimentary grains to form domes of rock-like materials known as Stromatolites. Stromatolites first colonised the shallow waters of Hamelin Pool a recent 2000 - 3000 years ago, but the organisms that built them were the earliest forms of life on Earth, with a lineage dating back 3500 million years.
Visitors can see the Stromatolites at the end of the Hamelin Pool Road - just 27km from the junction of the North West Coastal Highway and the Shark Bay Road. A wooden boardwalk at Hamelin Pool allows people to view the Stromatolites without damaging them. It incorporates informative panels that give visitors a fascinating insight into the formation and lifestyle of the stromatolites and is a good way to find out about the beginnings of life on Earth. There is an interesting museum and tearooms at the nearby Hamelin Pool telegraph station.
Shark Bay Tourism Association Inc