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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shark Bay celebrates 21st anniversary of World Heritage status

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2012 marks the 21st anniversary of Shark Bay's World Heritage status

Shark Bay was the first area in Australia to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list and is located adjacent to Australia's newest World Heritage Area, Ningaloo Coast, which was inscribed last year.

Tourism Australia recently recognised the international appeal of the area from Shark Bay to Ningaloo by naming it as one of the nation's 15 National Landscapes. Australia's National Landscapes are promoted heavily to international markets by Tourism Australia.

Shark Bay satisfies all of the four natural criteria to be World Heritage listed. These criteria include: natural beauty, biological diversity, ecological processes and earth's history.

Australia's Coral Coast Chief Executive Officer, David O'Malley said despite global awareness of Shark Bay and its thriving tourism industry, it remains an unspoilt region of natural beauty with untouched rust red sand contrasting with clear turquoise water.

"People visit from all over the world to immerse themselves in Shark Bay's colourful and diverse landscapes and to get up close to the area's wealth of wildlife," Mr O'Malley said.

"Monkey Mia's famous friendly dolphins have been attracting families for many years and there are so many other activities and attractions to enjoy in the area."

Covering 2.2 million hectares of land and sea, the Shark Bay World Heritage Area includes the stromatolites (original producers of oxygen) of Hamelin Pool, Shell Beach (120 kilometres long and approximately 10 metres deep in cockle shells), the Francois Peron National Park and many endemic species of flora and fauna.

The Shark Bay Marine Park covers 1500 kilometres of coastline and is home to more than 320 species of marine life including manta rays, whales and turtles. Shark Bay's vast sea grass meadows support around 10 per cent of the world's dugong population.

"Many people do a wildlife cruise to get up close to Shark Bay's marine life and there's also a great aquarium in the area," Mr O'Malley said.

"The area's rich Indigenous history can be explored on an Aboriginal walking, kayaking or four wheel driving tour."

Learn more about the Shark Bay World Heritage Area – www.sharkbay.org / www.sharkbayvisit.com 

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