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June 15, 2024

Rare dugong sightings in Tweed River – boaties take care

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A dugong – similar to the one pictured above – is believed to have made the Tweed River home with several sightings of this rare marine animal reported to Council over the past 12 months. Boaties are urged to take extra care in the Tweed River, not only to protect the animal but to protect its seagrass habitat. Photo Canva

Rare sightings of a dugong in the Tweed River over the last year have led to the belief that the dugong may have relocated to the Tweed River.

Boat operators are being urged to take special care in the Tweed River, with several sightings of a dugong reported to Council over the past 12 months.

While dugong are known to occur in Moreton Bay, the presence of one of these marine mammals in the Tweed is both unusual and exciting.

Flood 2022

Council’s Team Leader Coast and Waterways Tom Alletson said it was believed the dugong may have relocated to the Tweed following the impact of the 2022 flood, perhaps having been displaced from Moreton Bay due to poor water quality.

‘Dugongs feed on seagrass beds and are entirely dependent on these habitats being extensive and healthy,’ Mr Alletson said.

‘So far it appears there may only be one individual dugong in the Tweed, and it is not known if it has been here permanently since the first sighting in May 2022. The most recent report to Council was received just last week and included a brief video.’

Dugongs need healthy seagrass beds and seagrass is reliant on clear water and healthy rivers. Photo www.flickr.com Dugong Seagrass

Good water quality essential

Mr Alletson said good water quality was essential to attract and sustain marine life in the Tweed River.

‘Healthy dugongs need healthy seagrass beds and seagrass is reliant on clear water so the leaves can receive sunlight and photosynthesise,’ he said.

‘To improve water quality we need to continue to address issues throughout the Tweed River catchment. This includes measures such as restricting cattle access to creeks, revegetating waterways with native plants, and protecting river banks from the impact of boat wake and flood flow.’

Boaties take care

Mr Alletson appealed to boat owners to take special care in the river – not only to prevent the potential strike of marine animals but also to protect seagrass beds.

‘Boaties have a special responsibility when it comes to seagrass and the potential presence of a dugong in our river,’ he said.

‘People need to take great care not to chop up seagrass beds with their propellers when operating in shallow water, and take extreme care when travelling at speed, close to our more extensive seagrass beds. This is important not only for our dugong guest, but for our resident turtles and dolphins too.’

To find out more about how Council is caring for our Tweed waterways, including rivers and creeks, visit tweed.nsw.gov.au/rivers-creeks.

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  1. I have seen a Dugong briefly on the Southern Seawall of the mouth of the Tweed River probably a year ago now. I was sitting on a rock eating an apple. It was very loud when it suddenly took air in and submerged down vertically (don’t know how else to describe as I didn’t see it swim forward, then it disappeared) releasing lots of big, big bubbles. Was a magical presence. I’ll never forget it’s tail shape and body colour. Was truely special and blew me away seeing it in nature.


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