Historically an important area due to the belief that the first European to set foot on Western Australian soil did so on a small island in Shark Bay. In 1616, Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog sailed along the west coast of the continent. He left behind a pewter plate on a pole, inscribed with the details of his visit at the site now known as Cape Inscription. Later, in 1699, British explorer William Dampier explored the area and gave it the name 'Shark's Bay' because of the large numbers of sharks he saw.

Shark Bay contains the world's best collection of stromatolites, a form of algae that are among the oldest life forms in the world. It also has one of the world's largest dugong populations, with about 14 000 of these strange-looking sea animals living in the region. In addition, dolphins, humpback whales and turtles live in the bay or pass through it. Five species of endangered mammals also live in the Shark Bay area. In 1991, Shark Bay was listed as a World Heritage site. As you would expect there are also plenty of sharks