Environment Migration patterns explain shark net dugong deaths

Migration patterns explain shark net dugong deaths

New GPS technology has allowed researchers to prove that shark nets close to Australia’s coastline pose a serious threat to our endangered dugong population.

James Cook University researchers monitored dugongs moving between Hervey Bay near Bundaberg and Moreton Bay near Brisbane.

They discovered that most of them stayed within 5kms of the coast.

These migration patterns had been impossible to establish before recent advances in GPS tracking.

JCU’s Professor Helene Marsh said this proved why shark nets were so much of a problem for dugongs.

“[Shark nets] were deployed close to the shore and when they were first introduced in the ‘60s the dugong kill was very high,” Professor Marsh said.

“For example, 82 dugongs were killed off Townsville in the first year of netting.”

Professor Marsh said the problem had diminished since the replacement of shark nets with drumlines at most locations in the Great Barrier Reef, and the opening of dugong protection.

But she is concerned about the planned introduction of shark nets in northern NSW.

You can find university’s summary of the study here. Story credit: James Cook University newsroom.

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