Deaths spark national alarm
ANOTHER dugong is dead. And while the region's call for answers gets louder it's becoming abundantly clear something's not right in our World Heritage-listed harbour.
That's the big concern for Queensland World Wildlife Fund manager Nick Heath and the region's residents.
“The reality is we're killing these animals and we don't know why they're dying,” concerned citizen Jan Arens said.
While the cause of death remains uncertain, there is national anxiety over increasing instances of dugong strandings with 76 reported as of March this year compared to 81 in total for 2010.
In a rapidly perturbing trend, a deceased dugong was discovered at approximately 10am yesterday morning by a HookUp contestant on the high tide line at Seven Mile Creek, Rodd's Island.
This latest incident follows the mysterious death of two dolphins last month on Boyne and Turtle Islands, and the discovery of 22 dead turtles found washed up at the mouth of Boyne River in April.
A Department of Environment and Resource Management spokesman confirmed they had received reports of the death and officers are currently investigating the matter further, however with a lack of consistency in the autopsy process the worry is that it's not enough.
“We are gravely concerned for the future of dugongs in the Gladstone region,” Mr Heath said.
“We're calling on the government to step in; dugongs used to be in their thousands in various coastal and estuarine areas of Queensland and now they're down to their hundreds or even less.
“In so few cases is a cause of death actually concluded and that lack of follow through is leading to a lack of policy.
“No data, no response, no change, and if there is no change dugongs are going to become extinct in Gladstone and other parts of Queensland.”
With the dugong population already under stress due to flood-related seagrass depletion, concerned parties are advocating for more government funding to ensure comprehensive investigations are performed to find the underlying causes moving forward.
“We have got a huge problem and if somebody doesn't find out what's going on soon we won't have too many of them left,” Turtle Island caretaker Clive Last said.
“It's time someone got up here from the government, opened their mouth and told the truth.”
It is not known whether lacerations to the dugong's body occurred after its death or caused it.