Sydney, Australia: A dugong which was rescued from Merimbula Lake in a joint operation between marine experts from Sea World, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service has been released to Moreton Bay. The 340 kilogram, 2.7metre long male Dugong, affectionately named Merimbula spent a short-period of time at Sea World for health checks and rehabilitation after the mammoth rescue and relocation efforts which involved a flight in a RAAF Hercules.
Sea World Director of Marine Science, Trevor Long said this has been a rewarding release given the vulnerable status of Dugong populations and outcomes such as these are a credit to the outstanding work Sea World and fellow agencies do in rescuing and rehabilitating marine life.
“While at Sea World, Merimbula was under the constant care of our specialised vet and animal care teams who put him on an antibiotic regime and fed him a diet of sea grass which was hand-collected daily from Moreton Bay,” he said.
“After two weeks of rehabilitation in our vet centre, Merimbula’s health and skin condition improved and he was ready to be released into Moreton Bay which has a population of approximately 1000 dugongs thanks to warm waters and suitable sea grass.
“Throughout the rescue operation, the welfare and wellbeing of Merimbula was the team’s highest priority and we would like to thank all parties involved for their assistance which has lead to a successful release.
“The strong community messages that result from these types of rescues highlight the importance of marine conservation.”
Wildlife officers from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) worked with Sea World regarding appropriate health protocol so that Merimbula’s release would not impact the resident dugong population.
Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Dr Steven Miles said the release protocol has seen Merimbula tested for a range of contagious diseases and the results had come back as negative for each of them.
“Prior to the release, Merimbula was fitted with a neutrally-buoyant satellite transmitter to track his movements. We are confident the transmitter will provide valuable information on his movements after his release,” he said.
“Sea World staff and wildlife officers have an excellent working relationship and I’d like to thank Trevor Long and all his staff at Sea World for the great work they do in rehabilitating marine life.”
Sea World has a long history of working with Dugongs and for the last eight years has conducted health assessment surveys on the Dugong population in Moreton Bay with the University of Queensland and SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium.
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