Four dugongs found dead in one week

With dugongs listed 'vulnerable to extinction' in Queensland, four deaths in one week has highlighted the need for the State Government to organise post-mortem examinations, WWF-Australia says.

  • Wednesday, September 21: a dead dugong was found among mangroves near Armstrong Beach, south of Mackay
  • Friday, September 23: a researcher took a DNA sample from a dugong drowned in a commercial fishing net at Saunders Beach, north of Townsville.
  • Sunday, September 25: a recreational fisher photographed a dead dugong near the Booral flats just south of Hervey Bay.


  • Tuesday, September 27: another dead dugong was found south of TownsvilleThe dugong death off Saunders Beach is the second fatality in that location in the past three months. In June, researchers posted pictures on Twitter of a dead animal with suspected entanglement marks.

WWF has expressed concern that the state government did not organise necropsies on any of the dugongs and WWF has offered to facilitate a workshop involving researchers and government officers to improve marine stranding responses.  

Following the 2011 floods and cyclones, there was an estimated population of only 600 dugongs between Cooktown in the north and near Bundaberg in the south and current combined levels of mortality from all threats are thought to be unsustainable.

WWF-Australia fisheries spokesperson Jim Higgs said dugongs we under extra pressure at this time of year because the abundance of seagrass is at its seasonal lowest.

"Accurate information on whether a dugong perished because of natural causes or from boat strikes or fishing gear entanglement is extremely valuable.

"We understand the commercial fisher who found a dugong drowned in his net off Saunders Beach reported the incident and WWF commends him for doing the right thing," he said.

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