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Ningaloo Coast World Heritage values

Posted on 18 April 2013

  • Tyrone Ridgway
  • AIMS

The Ningaloo Coast was nominated for World Heritage listing in January 2010 by the Australian Government with the support of the Western Australia Government.

A World Heritage site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as being of special cultural or physical significance.  As such, World heritage sites are places that are important to and belong to everyone, irrespective of where they are located. 

The Ningaloo Coast has been nominated under three criteria:

Criterion (vii) to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance

  • The Ningaloo Coast provides the best opportunity in the world to encounter whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), the world's largest fish, together with globally significant populations of iconic marine megafauna - manta rays, dugongs, marine turtles, humpbacks, other cetaceans, rays and sharks.
  • The property contains exceptional underwater scenery, including coral reef structures, marine invertebrates and marine megafauna, contrasting with the vivid colours of the arid terrestrial landscape.

Criterion (viii) to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features

  • The Ningaloo Coast is an outstanding example representing major biogeographic events in the history of life: increasing biological isolation, shifting continents and the record of climate change over time.

Criterion (x) to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation

  • The Ningaloo Coast is a place of outstanding biological diversity, and has an internationally significant role in the protection of many important species, including the exceptional whale shark, which is a flagship for the health of the oceans.
  • The property includes highly significant subterranean and terrestrial ecosystems housing unique fauna, which have outstanding universal value from the point of view of science.

The UNESCO World Heritage Centre has accepted the nomination for assessment by the IUCN and news of whether the Ningaloo Coast will be added to the World Heritage list is expected in June 2011.

If successful, the Ningaloo Coast will join Australia's 18 other World Heritage listings, which include the Great Barrier Reef, Fraser Island, Kakadu National Park, Shark Bay, and the Sydney Opera House.