HOW DOUGH THE DUGON’S STORY UNFOLDED:
Merimbula’s dugong, affectionately known as Doug, will be released to Queensland’s Moreton Bay later today.
The dugong was rescued from Merimbula Lake on Thursday, January 21, in a huge operation between marine experts from Sea World, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA), National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and even the Royal Australian Air Force.
Doug was relocated to Sea World for rehabilitation under the care of veterinarian teams who treated the animal with antibiotics to improve its skin condition and fed it a diet of sea grass sourced from Moreton Bay.
Merimbula-based ranger from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Craig Dickmann, said everyone involved in the herculean rescue and relocation operation was ecstatic at today’s outcome.
“We all hoped for this result and to hear that the dugong will be safely released to the warm waters off Queensland is fantastic,” Mr Dickmann said.
“I’m sure the local community share our sense of joy and relief knowing the dugong is on its way home – albeit after a big adventure,” he said.
Mr Dickmann thanked the Merimbula locals who monitored the dugong during its two month stay at the Lake and for heeding warnings to give the animal space.
At more than 1,400km from Merimbula, Moreton Bay has a known population of around 1,000 dugongs that enjoy warm waters and suitable sea grass.
Prior to the release the dugong was fitted with a neutrally-buoyant satellite transmitter that will hopefully provide valuable information on its movements.
The decision to relocate Doug was taken after veterinarians and marine mammal experts confirmed its condition was deteriorating and on advice that if the dugong stayed in the Lake its outlook was not good.
“Without the rescue the prognosis for this animal was not good,” Mr Dickmann said.