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Seagrass: Bringing dugongs and turtles to the seaway

March 27, 2014
This dugong from the Moreton Bay herd has been captured for a few minutes to collect valuable data to aid in dugong conservation. Photo supplied by Janet Lanyon

This dugong from the Moreton Bay herd has been captured for a few minutes by a University of Queensland research team to collect data for dugong conservation. Because the Moreton Bay dugongs live in a herd of up to 1000, many SE Queenslanders wrongly believe that dugongs in general are herding animals, however the most common grouping for dugongs is one ie lone individuals.  Lone dugongs are often sighted in the Southport Seaway at the southern end of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and could either live locally or be members of the Moreton Bay population.   Dugongs are like cows, continually grazing. They consume massive amounts of seagrass per day, so dugongs sighted at the Gold Coast Seaway are nearly always seen in or near seagrass beds. Photo supplied by Janet Lanyon

Try and gauge the age of the green sea turtle that divers rescued in the Gold Coast seaway recently.

This is what we know:

Before the Sea World Rescue and Research team released him, Dale the South Straddy water taxi operator saw the turtle and guessed he was about 70 cm long

According to “Dugong and Marine Turtle Knowledge Handbook” green sea turtles measure a measly 5cm when they are born. As soon as they hatch they head out to the open sea, where it takes them five to seven years to grow to 30 or 40 cm, eating small marine animals near the surface.

Green sea turtle in Gold Coast seaway. Photo by Shona Pinkerton

Green sea turtle in Gold Coast seaway. Photo by Shona Pinkerton

Around the young age of seven this little sea turtle that Sea World called Twiggy travelled from the open ocean and began “foraging on the sea floor among habitats containing seagrass or seaweed”. Eventually it appears he found the seagrass in the seaway and made it home. The southern area of the Broadwater has about 340 hectares of seagrass.

Green sea turtles don’t reach breeding age till about 35 years old and they measure a metre when they are fully grown.

So it’s a fair guess that Twiggy is about 20 years old.

To read the rest of the article click and find out about the dugong capital of the world go to Blank Magazine




This dugong was photographed in the Seaway last year on August 18 on the northern side of Wave Break Island by Jason Campbell. Sourced from Gold Coast Fishing News Facebook.

This dugong was photographed in the Seaway last year on August 18 on the northern side of Wave Break Island by Jason Campbell. Sourced from Gold Coast Fishing News Facebook.

In a related story VICE covers a new report that shows climate change is favoring a skewed turtle population with more females than males. Read it here.

Click here to read what experts say about marine parks, like the Moreton Bay Marine Park that is adjacent to the Seaway.

Marine Parks are useful to protect reefs from large land run off plumes like the one that happened in the Queensland floods.

 

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