Western Australia's Coral Coast has more than its fair share of incredible native animals, some of which are threatened or endangered. One of the major factors contributing to the UNESCO World Heritage statuses of Shark Bay and Ningaloo is the presence of wildlife; mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish and invertebrates. But it’s not just these two areas where you can spot our animal friends - our marine parks and national parks are teaming with wildlife, during the day and at night.
The Coral Coast is a safe haven for some of the world’s most endangered species, including the loggerhead turtle, green turtle, dugong and four mammal species not found in the wild anywhere else. Here are some of the animals you can find along the Coral Coast Highway:
Whale Sharks: the world's largest fish congregates in huge numbers each year at Ningaloo. You can swim with these giant fish from Coral Bay and Exmouth between March - August.
Manta Rays: the majestic mantas can be sighted cruising on the Ningaloo Reef all year. The best place to see them is from Coral Bay, where you can join a dedicated tour to swim with manta rays.
Humpback Whales: an estimated 40,000 humpback whales migrate along Western Australia's coastline each year, and can be seen all along the Coral Coast between late-June and October. Dedicated whale watching tours operate from Geraldton, Kalbarri, Shark Bay and Ningaloo, and guests can swim with humpback whales from both Coral Bay and Exmouth.
Turtles: turtles can be seen on the Ningaloo Reef and around Shark Bay and the Mackerel Islands all year, and these areas are critical to turtle breeding/nesting. Turtle mating season generally takes place throughout October and November, following by turtle nesting (December to February) and hatching (January to March). If you're planning to travel through the region during these months, refer to the Turtle Watchers Code of Conduct to ensure you don't inadvertently affect the turtles during these critical times.
Dolphins: you can see dolphins year-round, with some of the best spots being the Houtman Abrolhos Islands (off Geraldton), Kalbarri, Monkey Mia and Ningaloo. Monkey Mia is world-famous for its dolphin interaction, where wild dolphins make their way close to shore each morning.
Australian Sea Lions: the Coral Coast is home to some of these endangered species' most significant breeding grounds. Sea lions are commonly seen from Cervantes, Jurien Bay, Leeman, Green Head, Geraldton and the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, with dedicated sea lion tours running from Jurien Bay.
Dugongs: dugongs can be seen year-round around Shark Bay and Ningaloo. Shark Bay is home to the world's most stable dugong population, with an estimated 10,000 of these creatures living in Shark Bay's waters.
Orcas: orcas are commonly seen between July and October on the Ningaloo Reef. If you are on a tour from Exmouth during these months, you're likely to spot orcas as part of your day.
Kangaroos: can be seen year-round and are commonly sighted when driving along the Coral Coast Highway. In particular, Nambung National Park and Cape Range National Park are two locations where you can expect to see kangaroos.
Emus: can be seen year-round and are most commonly seen around Denham, Francois Peron National Park, Exmouth and in Cape Range National Park. Emu chicks can be seen in August and September.
Thorny devil lizards: these tiny lizards can be seen year-round and are most commonly sighted in Kalbarri National Park, around Shark Bay and Ningaloo.
Echidnas: echidnas can be seen year round all throughout the region. Keep your eyes peeled for them in National Parks and on roadsides, where they're likely to forage for ants in the dirt.
Bungarra sand goannas: can be seen year-round. The best spots to see them are Francois Peron National Park and Cape Range National Park.
Dingos: can be seen year-round in Cape Range National Park.
Black-footed rock wallabies: these elusive wallabies can be seen year-round in Cape Range National Park; the best spots to see them are in Yardie Creek (boat cruises offer a great way to see and learn about the wallabies), Mandu Mandu Gorge and Pilgonoman Gorge (4WD required).
An abundance of birdlife can be see year-round throughout the Coral Coast, with significant nesting areas, such as the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, found in the region.
Birds of prey can also be seen year-round, particularly around Kalbarri, Francois Peron National Park and Cape Range National Park.
Pelicans can be commonly seen around Kalbarri (pelican feeding takes place daily at the Kalbarri Foreshore) and Monkey Mia.
Residents and visitors are urged to avoid feeding wildlife. The Coral Coast has a diverse array of incredible wildlife that community members and visitors are lucky enough to see regularly. With so many different wild animals comes great responsibility to ensure that these wild animals remain wild.
For the safety of all please:
- Do not encourage wildlife by providing food and water.
- Do not approach or interact with dingoes – they are wild animals and generally very shy.
- If you see hurt or injured wildlife, please make contact with Parks & Wildlife, contact details are available on our Emergency Services page