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Sea World and University of Queensland dugong research identifies importance of habitat protection

Sea World and University of Queensland dugong research identifies importance of habitat protection
September 30, 2016

A recent health assessment study by the Sea World Research & Rescue Foundation and University of Queensland on the Dugong population in Moreton Bay has identified the critical importance of protecting seagrass beds in the area.

This was the ninth consecutive year of the ground-breaking out-of-water studies and the team this year conducted metabolic trials on dugongs with the results indentifying the marine-mammals need access to high levels of healthy seagrass to survive.

Leader of the University of Queensland Dugong Research Team, Dr Janet Lanyon said this regular monitoring of the health of dugongs is one of the most effective ways of identifying threats to both the dugongs and their inshore seagrass habitats.

Dr Lanyon stated “this year we conducted the very first metabolic trials for dugongs by measuring their oxygen consumption in a specially designed metabolic chamber with the trials providing the first insights into the metabolism and energetics of these marine mammals.

“The results from the trials have proven our predictions suggesting dugongs lead high energy and high nutrient lifestyles but feed on low nutrient, low energy food which is why the species growth and reproductive rates are so slow.

“Given dugongs must satisfy high energy requirements to grow to maturity, reproduce and stay healthy, it is imperative that we protect the most nutritious, energy-rich seagrass habitats that they feed on around the Moreton Bay region.”

Sea World Director of Marine Sciences, Trevor Long said that the research was conducted by a highly-skilled team of biologists and veterinarians who assessed the dugongs clinical health, body condition and reproductive status.

Long added “this long term study is the only dugong health program undertaken in the world and has enabled us to establish baseline clinical health parameters for this species.

“The Sea World team is proud to partner with the University of Queensland on health assessment and monitoring of endangered wildlife. These assessments are important to be able to detect health problems and the threats causing these before the population is adversely impacted.

“Dugong research is an ongoing priority for the Sea World Research& Rescue Foundation and our research and expertise has previously resulted in the rescue of ‘Merimbula’ a dugong which was relocated to Moreton Bay after drifting to the colder, southern waters of Merimbula on the New South Wales South Coast.”

For more information on the Dugong Research trip or the Sea World Research & Rescue Foundation please visit





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