Skeleton Beach and the
Coral Bay Reef Shark Nursery

Skeleton Beach and the Reef Shark Nursery is a short walk from the town of Coral Bay, but it feels very secluded from the town beach. Most days there's a strong blustery wind blowing across the bay, and the shallow water is choppy.

Skeleton Beach, Coral Bay - part of the Maud Sanctuary Zone in the Ningaloo Marine Park

The Coral Bay Shark Nursery

So you're wondering why Skeleton Bay is also called called the Coral Bay Reef Shark Nursery?

Now this is what makes Skeleton Beach really interesting: Every year around Springtime, the shallow protected water right in close to shore becomes a haven for baby reef sharks.

The Coral Bay Reef Sharks in the Skeleton Bay Shark Nursery

The Skeleton Bay reef shark nursery in the northern part of Bill's Bay

It's definitely worth checking out if you're in Coral Bay at the right time of year, when you can see the large school of small black-tip reef sharks (and a few white-tip reef sharks, too) darting about. They're right in close to shore in only a few feet of water, so it's easy to get up close to them.

These baby sharks are curious creatures - you might notice they seem to follow alongside you as you walk up the beach.

Is it safe to wade in the water or swim with the baby reef sharks?

You can certainly wade around in the shallows with the sharks without fearing for your life, and there are no rules against doing so at present (as far as I'm aware).

These sharks are (almost) harmless, even when fully grown. It's exceptionally rare for reef sharks to attack humans, but when they do, they generally bite the legs of waders, rather than go for swimmers and divers.

I don't want to scare you unnecessarily, but I should mention that a few years back, someone ended up with a shark bite to her ankles whilst wading in the shallows of Skeleton Bay.

So you should be a just a little bit wary about wading in the water with the Skeleton Beach sharks, but if you see one while swimming or snorkeling, you have absolutely nothing to fear.

You also need to realise that despite being close to town, the shark nursery is a very special part of the Maud Sanctuary Zone and it is probably better for the sharks if they're left undisturbed.

Here's a short movie of the baby black-tip reef sharks in Skeleton Bay from the point of view of someone wading in the water amongst them:

No sharks in the shark nursery?

Even when the baby sharks aren't present in the nursery, you could still see a reef shark while snorkeling out deeper in Skeleton Bay.

Swimming and Snorkeling at Skeleton Beach

Skeleton Beach is a wonderfully peaceful, secluded place for a walk or swim during your stay in Coral Bay, but as I mentioned it often gets very windy - even when the town beach on the southern side of Bill's Bay is calm and windless. There's a fair bit to see snorkeling in Skeleton Bay, but a strong wind blowing usually means poor visibility.

See Snorkeling at Bill's Bay for photoss and descriptions of what you'll see while snorkelling off Skeleton Beach.

The Aquarium

At the southernmost end of Skeleton Bay, a low, straight wall of dark jagged rock partially encloses a very shallow pool. This is known as The Aquarium. The rock wall continues under water in a straight line parallel to the beach about half way across Skeleton Bay.

The Aquarium, Skeleton Beach, Coral Bay, Western Australia

The reef shark nursery begins immediately north of the Aquarium, just around the corner. You'll know you're there when you see either the sharks or the "Reef Shark Nursery" sign up on the beach.

Where is Skeleton Beach and the Shark Nursery?

Walking along Skeleton Beach, Coral Bay

My friend Harriet walking along Skeleton Beach

Bill's Bay is divided in two by a small point half way along the shoreline. The southern half of the bay is the Coral Bay main beach, and the northern half is Skeleton Bay.

Walking north from town along the Coral Bay foreshore, the beach narrows into a shoreline of wobbly rocks, backed by an almost vertical dune.

Just around the corner from the point in the middle of Bills Bay, you'll find the Aquarium, and if you continue even further around the corner a short distance, you'll find yourself at the start of Skeleton Beach, which curves 2.5 kilometres all the way around to Point Maud in the distance.

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