The dugong rescued from Merimbula Lake on Thursday and flown to the Gold Coast will spend a short period of time at Sea World undergoing rehabilitation and health checks before hopefully being released in Moreton Bay.
Due to deteriorated health the dugong was relocated in a joint operation between Sea World, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.
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Sea World Director of Marine Science, Trevor Long said the dugong had settled well to the Veterinary Quarantine Centre.
“Throughout the rescue operation, the welfare and wellbeing of the dugong was the team’s highest priority and we would like to thank all parties involved for their assistance which lead to a successful rescue operation.
“The strong community messages that result from these types of rescues highlight the importance of marine conservation.”
To minimise travel time, the RAAF combined routine flying operations to assist with the relocation process and flew the Dugong and the specialised veterinary team to the Gold Coast.
Merimbula Lake is well outside the normal range for Dugong populations, which are tropical and subtropical species and it is extremely unusual for them to be found this far south. The Dugong was in a poor condition and with cooler waters forecast and lack of suitable sea grass and the Dugong would have ultimately died if left in the area.
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.