What is it?
The Ningaloo is a 280 km long ‘fringing’ coral reef skirting the Cape Range limestone peninsular, mid way up the West Australian coastline, 1200km north of Perth. Ningaloo Reef is the longest western fringing coral reef and one of the last healthy major coral reef systems in the world.
The Ningaloo region is so unique in its profound biodiversity that it easily qualifies for World Heritage Listing.
What’s special about it?
In near pristine condition, Ningaloo supports a staggering abundance of fish (500 species), corals (300 species), molluscs (600 species) and many other marine invertebrates.
Ningaloo is a special biogeographic zone where the distributions of tropical and temperate marine and terrestrial organisms overlap, and where life unique to the area has evolved.
Whale sharks, the world’s largest fish, gather in the reef waters each year and depend on the reef for part of their life cycle. Eco-tour operators take thousands of people swimming with these gentle giants every year.
Humpback whales migrate twice annually through the reef waters with their calves.
Endangered and vulnerable marine creatures including loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles depend on the reef and coastal ecosystems for food, breeding and nesting.
Dugongs, in decline throughout the Indian Ocean, rely on northern WA waters, including Ningaloo, for refuge and protection.
Seabirds and migratory waders, including species listed under international conservation conventions, use the coast, wetlands and reef waters as resting, feeding and breeding sites.
Manta rays and populations of large game fish including sailfish and marlin abound in the reef’s waters.
The reef is a source of larvae of corals, fish and other marine animals, which are dispersed as far south as the Abrolhos Islands and Rottnest Island on the Leeuwin current.
With 80% of the world’s coral reefs in serious decline due to human influence, the isolated Ningaloo Reef is of particular international importance.