Dugongs in Barrier Reef in decline
* From: AAP
* September 04, 2012 12:47PM
A survey of dugongs in the Great Barrier Reef shows a significant decline, a marine biologist says. Source: AAP
A SURVEY of dugongs in the Great Barrier Reef shows a significant decline, a leading marine biologist says.
“In the southern Great Barrier Reef region the estimated size of the dugong population – about 500 to 600 – was the lowest since surveys began in 1986,” Professor Helene Marsh from James Cook University said on Tuesday.
But the report indicates dugong numbers further south, in Hervey Bay and Moreton Bay, are steady.
Prof Marsh said widespread flooding and Cyclone Yasi in early 2011 had a detrimental impact on seagrass, which is the staple of the dugong’s diet.
“The data indicates that Townsville and Gladstone were the dugong mortality hotspots,” she said.
“In both these places seagrass was in poor condition.”
The report calls on the state and federal governments to create larger protected areas for dugongs, and create an indigenous group to co-ordinate responses to major weather events.