MESA logo
  Information Sheets    
Home | About MESA | Contact MESA | Seaweek | Site Resources | Marine Links | International News | MESA History

SW08 Home |  Sawfish Information sheets |  Teaching Units |  Live webcasts |  Seaweek events |  Photo Gallery |  Other species Info |  Sponsors

Some Threatened Species of the Great Barrier Reef
Source: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

.Dugong are large herbivorous marine mammals that belong to the order Sirenia. Four of the five modern members of Sirenia are vulnerable, with the fifth, (Steller’s sea cow), being extinct.

Dugong, which inhabit the shallow sea grass beds common across northern Australia, face a number of anthropogenic pressures including accidental capture in nets, boat strikes, Indigenous hunting, habitat degradation, noise, and underwater explosions.

Dugong are particularly susceptible to direct adult mortality as they are long-lived, (70 yrs), late maturing (7-13 years) and slow breeding, (3 – 7 yr calving interval).

Dugong surfacing to breathe
Courtesy of the Great Barrier Reef
Marine Park Authority

These pressures have resulted in documented declines in dugong numbers across the southern Great Barrier Reef, while in other areas there is a high degree of uncertainty related to the difficulty in accurately sampling dugong numbers. In response to this the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has introduced restrictions on Indigenous hunting, assessed impacts of land-based activities on dugong habitats and established 16 Dugong Protection Areas in Queensland.

What we can do:

  • Promote an understanding of what dugong are and why they are threatened within the Great Barrier Reef. This is especially important within schools as today’s students represent the decision makers of tomorrow;
  • As a community we can continue to support scientific research through donations, volunteer work and by reporting sick, injured or dead animals to authorities on the Marine Animal Hotline: 1300 360 898 (local cost);
  • Monitor sea grass levels by getting involved in programs such as sea grass watch;
  • Limit boat speed in areas known to contain high dugong abundance. Less than planing speed is preferred. Keep a safe distance when observing dugong; and
  • Report any illegal activities, especially those in Dugong Protection Areas, to authorities on Fish watch 1800 017 116.

Dugong are also found off the WA coast
Courtesy of the Great Barrier Reef
Marine Park Authority

The dugong is a truly unique marine mammal and its protection is crucial to maintaining a wide biodiversity within the Great Barrier Reef for future generations. By continuing to expand our knowledge and sharing this with others we may be able to promote an awareness within the community that could lead to an increase in dugong populations to safer levels.

Search site

   Contact Web Manager © MESA 1999 - 2009
0.00000 secs   
  BriTer Solutions   SpiderByte Web Design Top