DEAD DUGONG WASHED UP ON KELLY’S BEACH

I received a phone call this morning advising that a dead dugong had been washed up onto the rocky section of Kelly’s Beach just north of the Don Pancho Resort.

The poor thing appeared to be a female estimated to weigh over 500kgs and measuring just under 3 metres long. It was covered in shallow lacerations which appear to have been caused by the heavy mammal being rolled over the rocks in the overnight high tide surf. The were no signs of a boat strike or any other cause of death. (I’m not going to publish any photos as no-one enjoys seeing pickies of injured or dead animals).

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Rangers responded quickly and were on the scene within half an hour. They carried out an examination and recorded all relevant facts before Council staff removed the carcass with a front-end loader.

It’s sad to see these magnificent and gentle creatures end up like this and in the absence of a cause of death, I prefer to assume that it had simply died of natural causes.

I’ve pinched the following exerpt from the University of Queensland website which gives some brief facts about dugongs….

Dugongs (Dugong dugon) are large long-lived (about 70 y) marine mammals. An adult dugong weighs up to 600 kg and measures up to 3 metres in length. The closest living relatives to dugongs are the three species of manatee: West Indian manatee Manatus latirostris, the Amazonian manatee Trichechus inunguis and the West African manatee Trichechus senegalensis. Dugongs are also distantly related to elephants and hyraxes.

Dugongs are streamlined, fast over short distances and are superbly adapted for a fully marine pelagic lifestyle. Their dolphin-like tail flukes provide propulsion whilst their front flippers help them to steer. Female dugongs feed their calves from nipples located under their front flippers. There is no obvious sexual dimorphism in terms of body size and shape, however the sexes can be determined by looking at the distance between the genital and anal slits: in females these are almost contiguous, whilst in males these are further apart. Adult males and very old female dugongs have large emergent tusks.

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