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 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).

One of the natural phenomena present in this property is its stromatolites, which represent the oldest form of life on Earth and are comparable to living fossils, their development is due to hypersaline conditions in Hamelin Pool.

It is also one of the few marine areas in the world dominated by carbonates not associated with reef-building corals which has led to the development of the the largest seagrass meadows in the world with the most seagrass species recorded from one area, covering 103,000 ha (255.000 acres).

The area has a population of fewer than 1,000 people in half a dozen small communities which occupy less than 1% of the total area.

It is an area of major zoological importance, the home to about 10,000 ‘sea cows’, around 12.5% of the world's population, and there are many bottlenose dolphins. The area supports 26 threatened Australian mammal species, over 230 species of bird, and nearly 150 species of reptile. There are over 323 fish species, many of them sharks and rays.

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