03 September 2012

Dead dugong washes up in Johor

An injured adult dugong was found at Pengerang Johor on 1 Sep. "It had many slash-like wounds on its body and head," said a local fisherman, who added that "This is the first time villagers have found a dead dugong washed up along Sungai Rengit".
Photo from The Star, 2 Sep 12
Dugongs in the Johor Strait visit both Johor and Singapore. Here's more about our dugongs (Dugong dugon) threats to them.

Commenting on the dead dugong at Pengerang, a Johor Fisheries official said “Dugongs are known to be found along the coastline of Johor, especially in Pengerang, Pasir Gudang and Gelang Patah,”
Here is Kampung Sungai Rengit on Google Earth. Singapore shores in the vicinity include Chek Jawa on Pulau Ubin, Singapore's best natural mangroves on Pulau Tekong, our best northern submerged reef Beting Bronok and Changi's seagrass meadows.

Indeed, dugong feeding trails are regularly seen on the lush seagrass meadows at Chek Jawa and even on mainland Changi, as recently as last month.
Dugong feeding trail at Changi seen in Aug 2012
Dugong feeding trail at Chek Jawa seen in May 2012
The Tropical Marine Science Institute has a study that consolidates sightings of on marine mammals in Singapore. Here's the SWiMMS map of dugong sightings including sightings of dolphins and other awesome marine mammals in Singapore.
Sadly, dugongs in the our waters face many threats. Such as long driftnets laid to trap fish. Dugongs, like humans, breathe air. If a dugong gets entangled in a driftnet, it may drown.  We came across this fishing net laid across a dugong feeding trail at Changi in July 2011.
In 2006, a dead dugong washed up on Pulau Tekong. More about this on the Raffles Museum News blog.
The dead dugong that washed up at Pulau Tekong in 2006.
from the Raffles Museum News blog

Among the major current threats to dugongs in the Johor Straits are plans for massive petrochemical developments at Pengerang. Earlier this year, there was news that a petrochemical complex rejected in Taiwan for environmental and health reasons may be relocated to Pengerang, Johor.
If the relocation goes ahead, it will be part of the massive oil hub project planned in Johor which includes the RM5bil Dialog independent deepwater terminal and the RM120bil Petronas’ Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) petrochemicals complex.

Development work seems to already have affected residents of Pengerang with some news reports of local reactions to relocation of graves and other issues.

Want to make a difference for our dugongs? Join TeamSeagrass to help monitor the seagrasses that these peaceful animals feed on.

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