Shark Bay Marine Park
Shark Bay Marine Park
The marine environment dominates Shark Bay. Over 70% of the World Heritage Area is marine waters, an area of over 1.5 million hectares and one of Australia's largest embayments. The shallow and mostly protected waters of the bay are home to vast herds of dugong, intriguing stromatolites and the world's largest seagrass beds. In fact many of the reasons for Shark Bay's World Heritage listing are within the waters of the bay!
The Shark Bay Marine Park and the Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve protect much of the bay's marine environment. These reserves were created to ensure the long term protection of important natural treasures, like the stromatolites and seagrass beds, whilst at the same time allowing for you to enjoy and appreciate these places..
For boat access to the marine park there are numerous formal boat ramps located around the bay at Monkey Mia, Denham, Nanga and in Carnarvon (for access to the northern part of the bay). Less formal beach access for smaller boats is available at numerous spots including the northern beaches of Francois Peron National Park, the beaches around Steep Point, Tamala Station, Carrarang and Gladstone. For more information see each individual section.
Access to the water for other activities such as kayaking, swimming and snorkelling is possible from many of the beaches in the World Heritage Area.
Facilities and fees
Aside from the boat ramps mentioned above there is a marina facility in Carnarvon and anchorages at Denham and Monkey Mia. Denham has limited marina pens and moorings administered through the Shire of Shark Bay and the Department if Primary Industries and there are moorings at Monkey Mia administered by the Department of Environment and Conservation.
At Hamelin Pool a boardwalk extends out over the water to give you an opportunity to get close to the stromatolites without damaging them. Information signs tell the intriguing story of the stromatolites and the vital role they played in the Earth's evolutionary history and Shark Bay's World Heritage listing.
There are no entry fees for either the Shark Bay Marine Park or the Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve.
Boating and fishing
Boating and fishing are some of the most popular activities in the bay and there are literally thousands of square kilometres of open water ready for exploration. Note that fishing is not permitted in the Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve, sanctuary zones within the Shark Bay Marine Park, or the dolphin interaction area at Monkey Mia. Visit www.sharkbay.org interactive zoning map for more details or download the Shark Bay Marine Park brochure here.
Visit www.sharkbay.org fishing and boating section for information on:
- marine zones
- fishing regulations
- fishing tours
- popular fishing spots and
- boating safety
For information on fishing at Steep Point and False Entrance visit the Steep Point website and for fishing at Dirk Hartog Island visit this website.
Commercial operators offer boat tours from Monkey Mia and Denham to view the wonderful array of marine life in the area. Dugongs, dolphins, turtles and rays are all on the agenda and the protected waters make for stable and exceptional wildlife viewing. Tours vary in length from one hour upwards. For more details and to book a tour visit this site.
Several charter boat companies in Denham and Monkey Mia offer fishing charters or hire out boats for you to use. Visit this search engine to find a charter company to suit your needs.
Dolphin viewing at Monkey Mia
Shark Bay is home to arguably the best dolphin interaction experience in the world. For over 40 years dolphins have been visiting the sheltered waters of Monkey Mia to the delight of thousands. Each morning small amounts of fish are fed to the resident dolphins and visitors are welcome to witness this experience first hand. For everything you need to know about the dolphin experience visit our Monkey Mia pages.
The world's best examples of stromatolites are found at Hamelin Pool. Here a short boardwalk has been built out over the stromatolites to provide easy viewing. See our Hamelin Pool pages for all the information on visiting the stromatolites.
Swimming, diving and snorkelling
Swimming is popular throughout Shark Bay especially during the warmer summer months. Diving and snorkelling are also possible although you will need some local knowledge and possibly transport to get to the best sites. For all the information on snorkelling and diving visit sharkbay.org.
Thousands of kilometres of protected coastline, sheltered bays and small limestone islands await keen kayakers with a sense of adventure. Whether you are going for a short paddle or undertaking a multi-day adventure there are a plenty of options for you to choose from. If you prefer your kayaking in calmer waters, there are numerous inlets and lagoons which are perfect for canoeing. See our sea-kayaking information for all the details.
Some of Shark Bay's most valuable natural treasures and reasons for its World Heritage listing are found underwater.
The world's largest and most diverse seagrass banks are found in Shark Bay. Covering some 4000 square kilometres and having a dramatic effect on the marine geology these are Shark Bay's most important plants. Read all about the importance of seagrass.
Endangered Marine Animals
If there is one thing Shark Bay is famous for it's the dolphins of Monkey Mia and its not surprising because they're probably the most studied and visited marine mammals on the planet! Find out all about Monkey Mia's dolphins.
But its not just dolphins that Shark Bay is famous for, the bay is also:
- home to one of the world's largest populations ofdugongs,
- teeming with marine life, including manta and sting rays, sharks and turtles
- an important breeding ground for endangered loggerhead turtles and
- a site along the migration route of humpback whales.
Sharks – Where can I see sharks in the bay?
At least 28 shark species are found in the bay, but have no fear as most of these species are totally harmless to humans. You don't have to go far to see them either – in fact, you don't even need to go boating! Lookouts over the marine park at Eagle Bluff and Skipjack Point are ideal to spot sharks feeding, resting and cruising about, especially in the summer months. For a list of shark species and to find out more about them go to the sharkbay.org website.
The super-salty marine environment of Hamelin Pool creates an ideal environment for stromatolites, one of the most important marine formations in Shark Bay. Visit our stromatolite pages to find out more about these amazing structures.
Maps and brochures
See www.sharkbay.org interactive map of the marine park.
Download a marine zoning brochure.
Take a Virtual Tour
View short videos taken in the marine park of:
How to get here