On the heels of Shark Week, the message is clear: we must protect the sharks in our oceans or suffer the consequences of the imbalance in nature. That prompted me to look to see how many of the growing shark sanctuaries around the world has been established in Australia. Actually, I thought that I would find several. Sadly, I found none. While there are wildlife sanctuaries and marine parks, there are no sanctuaries implicitly set up for sharks. There is a movement to make Shark Bay in Western Australia a shark sanctuary,  but for now, we will have to hope that the protections of the marine wildlife sanctuary is enough to help keep the many species of sharks here safe from human dangers. People who are so afraid of shark attacks forget that we are entering their domain and even in their own domain, humans kill millions more sharks than the other way around. Today, I hope to show you the beauty of Shark Bay and Faure Island and you will see why they are protected wildlife sanctuaries. In fact, it is a World Heritage Area. Hopefully you will plan a trip there in the near future.

Shark Bay Shark Sanctuary Project Logo Image Credit: SharkArkProject.com

Shark Bay Image Credit: parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au

Tiger Shark Image Credit: parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au

Getting to Shark Bay

Shark Bay Map Image Credit: Google Maps

Shark Bay Map Image Credit: Google Map

The Shark Bay area is located at the westernmost point in Australia in Western Australia. It is a little over 330 kilometres south of Carnarvon. You can hire a car in Carnarvon and there is also an airport located there. It is a little over a four hour drive down the beautiful Coral Coast. If you are coming from the south, there are car rental locations in Geraldton  and the Geraldton Airport. The drive up to Shark Bay from Geraldton is a little bit longer; slightly over 400 kilometres and about a 5 hour drive up the coast. Once you get to the Shark Bay area, there are plenty of resorts and other accommodations to stay in the area. Please be sure to check with your car rental agent for any helpful driving and safety tips and a list of restricted areas. Here are some other nearby holiday and travel ideas from our blog:

Shark Bay

Kalbarri National Park

Broome Western Australia

Swimming Experience of a Lifetime at Ningaloo Reef

Coral Coast Road Trip

Glamping in Western Australia

Karijini National Park

Whale Watching Season in Western Australia

Shark Bay

Shark Bay Image Credit: parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au

Dugong Image Credit: parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au

Shark Bay Fish and Coral Image Credit: parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au

Shark Bay is a beautiful, untouched vacation spot in Western Australia. Actually, it is the most western location in Australia. The Shark Bay area refers to a variety of peninsulas, islands, inlets, and the bay just off the coast in Western Australia and located on the Indian Ocean. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, named so in 1991 and is one of only 4 worldwide locations that meet all 4 natural criteria for a World Heritage Site and is a very important wilderness region:

  • Natural beauty
  • Earth’s history
  • Ecological processes
  • Biological diversity

There is so much to see and do in Shark Bay. If you thought it is only for snorkeling or diving, then think again after you see this list of things to do in Shark Bay:

  • Hiking trails are available for bush walking, self-guided, or guided tours.
  • Camping sites are well maintained and have facilities.
  • Dining options range from local restaurants to fine dining.
  • Water sports are of course a highlight when visiting Shark Bay. Snorkeling, SCUBA diving, and other beach fun await you here and vary depending on which beach, bay, or lagoon you are in.
  • Fishing charters are available but they are regulated since this is a protected area. Your charter boat captain can help explain the guidelines to you.
  • Boating is available in a variety of crafts from whale watching to yachting to kayaking.
  • Scenic flights give you a perspective of the amazing landscapes of Shark Bay.
  • Cycling trails are a great way to see some of the locations and get in exercise and new sights all at the same time.
  • 4WD riding is a unique way to see some of the more rugged terrain
  • Bird watching: 230 species are located in Shark Bay
  • Learn about the local fauna and flora. In addition to the marine life in the Shark Bay region, there are also plenty of interesting land animals as well as plants and flowers that are unique to the region. Many of the plants and animals are also endangered.
  • Explore the local bays:  Nanga Bay, Eagle Bluff, Fowlers Camp, Whalebone, Goulet Bluff and the Hamelin Bay.

Places to Visit near Shark Bay

Zuytdorp Cliffs Image Credit: Wikipedia

Shell Beach AustraliasCoralCoast.com

The entire Carnarvon region where Shark Bay is located is fascinating and some place you should see. There are other destinations in the area that you can see in addition to Shark Bay. We have an entire feature on Faure Island below since we are focusing on sanctuaries and protected lands here. However, while in Shark Bay, you should also plan to visit the magnificent natural attractions like Shell Beach, Steep Point. Zuytdorp Cliffs, Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station, Eagle Bluff, Dirk Hartog Island, Little Lagoon, and the following 5 “don’t miss” places:

Monkey Mia Dolphins Image Credit: parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au

Ocean Park Image Credit: parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au

Francois Peron National Park Image Credit:

  1. Monkey Mia: This is a resort in Shark Bay. Even if you don’t choose to stay here, you should definitely plan a visit because the resort is famous for the wild dolphins that play in the waters along the beach here and visit the tourists almost daily.
  2. Shark Bay Discovery Centre: Here you can take an afternoon and spend time learning about the natural conservation efforts and importance of the ecology here in Shark Bay. Enjoy the interactive exhibits that help you see the diversity of the waters here which are home to sharks, dolphins, whales, manta rays, turtles, fish species, and rare marsupials on land.
  3. Ocean Park: This Oceanarium is a place where you can explore and learn even more about the sea life and mammals in Shark Bay. They have live shark feedings and a chance to see sharks up close in their world without any danger.
  4. Aboriginal Culture Tours: This region is absolutely breathtaking; but you will learn to see it in a completely different light when you see the land through the eyes of its original landowners in a cultural tour. The Nhanda and Malgana people are the Aboriginal cultures that have lived here in this “Land of Two Waters” (Gutharraguda) for thousands of years. They offer different tours of the area including overnight camping excursions, bush walking, and kayaking.
  5. Francois Peron National Park: This national park is another protected refuge for many of the region’s marine life and land dwelling animals. The dramatic coastline features the red cliffs contrasting the white sand beaches, and azure blue seas. You need a 4WD vehicle to traverse the park. You can enjoy the park’s camping facilities, artisan water hot tub, picnic facilities, and walking trails.

Faure Island

Banded Hare Wallaby Image Credit: AustralianWildlife.org

Bandicoot  Image Credit: AustralianWildlife.org

Shark Bay Mice Image Credit: AustralianWildlife.org

If you are visiting Shark Bay, and you are interested in animal conservation, you should definitely take some time to see Faure Island. Faure Island is within the Shark Bay Heritage Area in addition to being its own wildlife sanctuary. The reason that Faure Island is so important for the conservation efforts for Australia’s threatened mammals is because all feral predators have been removed from the island. It is also free of all feral herbivores too. The Australian Wildlife Conservancy re-introduced four nationally threatened animals to the island after declaring it “feral-free”. The fours animals are:

  • Boodies (Burrowing Bettongs)
  • Banded Hare Wallabies
  • Western Barred Bandicoots
  • Shark Bay Mice

This is one of the richest marine regions on the planet, but on Faure Island, these mammals are also getting a second chance at species survival.

Faure Island Image Credit: AustralianWildlife.org

Faure Island Image Credit: AustralianWildlife.org

Faure Island Birds Image Credit: AustralianWildlife.org

The island is a beautiful sight with russet cliffs along the coastlines, mangrove-lined lagoons and mudflats and the interior a perfect landscape for endangered animals with heaths and shrubs scattered throughout. Just to add to the diversity of the landscapes, the coastal wetlands are home to internationally significant shorebirds. Over 12,000 shorebirds were counted on Faure Island during a recent survey. There are at least 119 bird species on the island. It is a key breeding area for seabirds including:

  • Pied Cormorant
  • Australian Bustards
  • Eastern Curlews
  • Lesser Sand Plover
  • Greater sand Plover
  • Bar-tailed Godwit
  • Grey-tailed Tattler
  • Red-necked Stint
  • Common Greenshank

The waters surrounding the island play host to three species of threatened sea turtles and dugong; and of course, sharks.