SPOTLIGHT: Two dugongs within Gladstone waters were tagged and released following a James Cook University research program, supported by Gladstone Ports Corporation.
SPOTLIGHT: Two dugongs within Gladstone waters were tagged and released following a James Cook University research program, supported by Gladstone Ports Corporation. Contributed

Dugongs are still calling Gladstone home

DUGONGS are still calling Gladstone home, with two located in a five-day research blitz a fortnight ago.

After being fitted with satellite tags, the majestic sea mammals were released back into the surrounding waters of Port Alma and Port Curtis.

Gladstone Ports Corporation is funding at least $5 million in research solely dedicated upon mega fauna, including turtles, dugongs and dolphins.

Named the Ecosystem Research and Monitoring Program, on this occasion 11 green turtles were tagged and released as well as 11 flatback turtles.

A spokesperson from Gladstone Ports Corporation said the research was integral to the future of operations on the harbour.

Understanding dugongs and their movements will impact any future port development, according to the spokesperson.

The research was a partnership with James Cook University and the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

Dr Col Limpus, chief scientist of the threatened species unit at EHP recruited a team of seven to undertake the five-day study.

He regarded the trip as a success.

"It was pleasing to note that almost all turtles appeared to be in good health," he said.

"A male turtle recaptured in October 2014 was originally captured in Port Curtis in 2002 - supporting the hypothesis that turtles exhibit long term site fidelity to foraging sites within Port Curtis."

Ninety-eight per cent of the 82 turtles assessed were in optimum health.

The information gathered will not only provide in-depth information in tracking mega fauna of the Gladstone region, but provide knowledge as to the behaviour and population sizes.

The program's research will continue to survey local waters until 2020.



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