The coastal and marine areas at Gnaraloo are magnificent but fragile natural assets, notable for their sense of remoteness and pristine beauty.
They feature a variety of environments, including sandy beaches, lagoons and one of the world’s largest fringing coral reefs. They also provide a habitat for numerous marine wildlife, including several endangered species. This area is also home to the world largest fish, the whale shark, and threatened sea turtles. Cape Farquhar, 3Mile and Turtles marine sanctuary zones are all located within the Gnaraloo area.
The Ningaloo Reef, one of the world’s largest fringing reefs, spans over 260 kilometres (160 mi). It is famous for its abundant wildlife where whale sharks, manta rays, humpback whales, dugongs and sea turtles congregate.
The Ningaloo Reef is a World Heritage listed site that is recognised internationally as an important natural environment. Its remarkable ecological values should be fully protected and the Gnaraloo Wilderness Foundation working with governments will fight for the protection of this national treasure.
Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program
The beaches at Gnaraloo are home to endangered sea turtles as they come ashore to nest every year. The Gnaraloo Bay Rookery and the Gnaraloo Cape Farquhar Rookery are some of the larger known mainland loggerhead nesting aggregations on the Ningaloo coast. The sea is an important breeding and foraging ground of the loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles.
Learn more about our sea turtle conservation program.
Major threats to the reef
Climate change is one of the greatest threats to the survival of coral reefs. There is scientific evidence that global ocean temperatures are increasing due to greenhouse gasses produced by human activities. Resulting in massive coral bleaching events, rising sea levels, ocean acidification and an increase in severe weather events.
Unsustainable and illegal fishing can lead to the depletion of many key coral reef species and the use of some types of fishing gear can inflict serious physical damage to the marine environment. Therefore, enforcing responsible fishing practices and upholding regulation are critical to maintain a healthy reef ecosystem.
As populations continue to grow worldwide, there is an ever-increasing pressure to expand and develop coastal regions. The State Government (Western Australia) has in the past targeted Gnaraloo Bay for development and it continues to be under threat. The health of our oceans and reef can be negatively affected from the development of these areas.
Human pollution and land based run-off can leach toxic chemicals into the surrounding waters increasing the spread of diseases and the destruction of habitats and animal. Plastic waste can be ingested by marine and terrestrial animals leading to starvation and death. The loss of habitat can put increased pressures on fragile environments.
These areas are being targeted for mining, agriculture, tourism and port developments.
Sea turtle conservation
The scientific Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program identifies, monitors and protects key coastal nesting rookeries of endangered sea turtles on Gnaraloo beaches.
Sea turtle migrations
During the sea turtle nesting season 2015/16, the Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program undertook the first ever satellite tracking of loggerhead females that nest on the Gnaraloo coastline.