Look out for marine wildlife

Deceased dugong removed from Exmouth's Town Beach in early June. Necropsy results show that the dugong died due to catastrophic blunt force trauma to the skull, caused by a small watercraft.
Deceased dugong removed from Exmouth's Town Beach in early June. Necropsy results show that the dugong died due to catastrophic blunt force trauma to the skull, caused by a small watercraft. Parks and Wildlife Service

Parks and Wildlife Service are encouraging people to be cautious when operating powered watercraft around marine animals following the recent death of a lactating female dugong due to a vessel strike in the Exmouth Gulf.

Parks and Wildlife staff removed the dead dugong from Exmouth Town Beach in early June. Necropsy results show that the dugong died due to catastrophic blunt force trauma to the skull, caused by a small watercraft.

Wildlife officer Peter Carstairs said the necropsy was undertaken by veterinarians in cooperation with a PHD marine scientist from Murdoch University.

“People need to be extremely careful when recreating in our marine environment. We have a very high abundance of marine animals that inhabit and frequent the waters of the Ningaloo Coast, particularly going into this year’s humpback whale migration” he said.

“Whether it is fishing, boating or jet skiing we are asking people to slow down and be vigilant around our marine wildlife,” he said.

Mr Carstairs said it was important that vessels were operated at a responsible speed and manner. Being slow moving, dugongs are often victims of vessel strikes and are occasionally seriously injured by propellers.

Australian dugongs live in the shallow warm waters of northern Australia. It is believed that there are 80,000 dugongs in Australian waters. Most of the important dugong habitats in Western Australia are protected in marine parks, marine reserves or proposed marine parks.

As well as Ningaloo Marine Park dugongs are also common in, Shark Bay Marine Park, Montebello Islands Marine Park, Barrow Island Marine Park, the proposed Dampier Archipelago Marine Park and Lalang-garram / Camden Sound Marine Park.