UPDATE 11am Wednesday, January 20
Specialist marine animal vets are moving into place to try and capture the dugong. A crowd of people is building around the lakeside as the operation starts.
Merimbula’s dugong could be relocated to Queensland as early as today, Wednesday, depending on advice from marine vets.
Specialist marine mammal vets from Sea World and Sea Life (Sydney Aquarium) travelled to Merimbula last Thursday to assess the dugong and believe that its condition is continuing to deteriorate while it remains in the lake.
It is thought that the combination of cooler waters, a different diet and travelling so far from home may have taken its toll.
Marine experts from Sea World and Sea Life Sydney Aquarium are currently working with New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.
A recent health assessment by specialist veterinarians identified that the dugong was in a poor condition due to weight loss evidenced in the dorsal surface and deteriorated skin condition. With cooler waters forecast and lack of suitable sea grass it is expected the dugong’s health will continue to deteriorate.
The welfare and wellbeing of the Dugong is the team’s highest priority, a spokesman said.
Sea World has a long history of working with dugongs and for the last eight years has conducted health assessment surveys on the dugong population in Moreton Bay with the University of Queensland and Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.
A spokeswoman from the National Parks and Wildlife Service said that NPWS was looking at a range of options for the animal’s welfare.
“The most likely option is to attempt to relocate the animal up north. Marine mammal specialists are assessing the dugong again and at this time a decision will be made on the most humane option. Resources are in place to act on this advice immediately,” the spokeswoman said.
It is thought that the dugong was swept south on warmer ocean currents.
NPWS reminds people to give the animal space.