Researchers dive into dugong heath project in Queensland’s Moreton Bay

By Russell Varley

Updated 4 hours 23 minutes ago

A marine researcher on Queensland’s Gold Coast says conditions for dugongs in Moreton Bay have improved after the environment was badly affected by Brisbane’s 2011 floods.

Sea World on the Gold Coast, the University of Queensland, and the Sydney Sea Life Aquarium are checking dugong health in a project that started seven years ago.

Up to 20 dugongs will be captured to carry out the health assessment, with Sea World welcoming a federal grant of $250,000 for whale and dolphin research.

Sea World’s director of marine sciences, Trevor Long, says issues like boat strike are still a problem.

“There is about 1,000 animals and the population’s reasonably sustainable but we’ve got to make sure that everyone understands how these animals use the bay,” he said.

“There is a far greater use of recreational craft and personal water craft in areas that these animals habitat and find their food.

“We’ve got to make sure that everyone understands where they are, how they live, so that we can continue to protect them.”

Dolphins could also benefit from program

Mr Long says the dugong health program could work for dolphins.

“We believe that from the researchers that we’ve been speaking to now and involved in this particular project, it is very similar,” he said.

“This is a very good model – what we’d like to look at doing is maybe to replicate a similar model with dolphins in Moreton Bay as a pilot first.

“Then be able to take that pilot to other areas with a more needy basis where future expansion might be.”

He says there have not been any significant health assessments of dolphins in Queensland.

“There’s lots of proposed new ports for Queensland so there’s lots of issues that dolphins may have to face in the future,” he said.

“We’d like to look at a health assessment that can be established that we can look at the way that we do that and be able to continue it into the future so we can see trends of health that either relate to environmental impacts or either human impacts.”

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