Shell beach is located on Hamelin Road about 45km from Denham, at Shark Bay, Western Australia. The beach stretches approximately 110km with the shell build up between 7-10m deep. By the way, don’t forget to take your sunglasses, because the glare can be blinding.
The beach is covered in millions and millions of small white cockle shells. The shells are known as Cardiid Cockles, a species that live in the coastal waters between Dampier and the Abrolhos Islands in Western Australia.
The reason for this high accumulation of shells is due to the high salinity (salt concentration) in the area between Lharidon Bight and Hamelin Pool. The high salt level results in the rapid breeding of this particular species. Its main predator, the shell grilling gastropods, can not survive very well in the salty conditions, therefore allowing the shells to live quite untroubled in the two bays.
The beach has been formed over thousands of years. As storms washed up sediment (sand, debris and shells) from the floor of the bay onto the shore, the strong winds blew away the sand and debris leaving only the shells. Over the years the shells eventually cement together to form soft coquina limestone. This coquina limestone has been quarried and used as blocks to build many of Shark Bay’s old buildings.