Dugongs are marine mammals that belong to the same family as manatees. They are also known as sea cows due to their diet of seagrass.
They are found in warm coastal waters, such as the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the western and central areas of the Pacific Ocean, including Australia, where they are commonly found along the northern coast.
Dugongs are considered vulnerable to extinction due to a variety of factors, including hunting, habitat loss, and accidental drowning in fishing nets.
And now, a group of fishermen from Manora in the Thanjavur division have successfully rescued a young dugong that had been unintentionally caught in a fishing net.
Thanjavur fishermen rescued an endangered dugong caught in a fishing net
Congratulations to the Thanjavur fishermen who rescued and safely released a young dugong accidentally caught in their fishing net at Manora in Thanjavur Division. Dugongs ate endangered. TN Government has notified India’s first Dugong Conservation Reserve at Palk Bay #TNForest vc DFO pic.twitter.com/DQqAfMnquV
— Supriya Sahu IAS (@supriyasahuias) May 9, 2023
Supriya Sahu, the Tamil Nadu government’s Additional Principal Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Forests, posted the video of the swift rescue on Twitter. In a letter, Sahu reported that Palk Bay had been designated as the first dugong conservation reserve in India.
She wrote: “Congratulations to the Thanjavur fishermen who rescued and safely released a young dugong accidentally caught in their fishing net at Manora in Thanjavur division. Dugongs ate endangered. The TN government has notified to India’s first dugong conservation reserve at Palk Bay #TNForest vc DFO.”
The first dugong conservation reserve in India was established in 2022 in the Palk Bay region of the Gulf of Mannar by the state of Tamil Nadu. The reserve is situated halfway between Sri Lanka and the southernmost point of India. The action was taken to protect endangered species.
“The notification of India’s first Dugong Conservation Reserve at Palk Bay is a proud moment for Tamil Nadu and is a great milestone in the country’s marine conservation history,” a press release said.
Water pollution is a threat to dugongs
The once extensive family Dugongidae now has only one extant member: the dugong. The marine mammal is confined to coastal areas as it is highly dependent on seagrass communities for survival.
Unfortunately, they are fewer now than decades ago, and their current distribution is sparse. Many populations are believed to be on the brink of extinction.
The dugong is listed as an endangered species by the IUCN, and trade in its derivatives is restricted or prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the loss or degradation of seagrass habitat due to coastal development or industrial operations leading to water pollution is a threat to dugongs.
The dugong does not breed normally if there is not enough seagrass available for consumption. Because of this, protection of their shallow-water marine habitat is crucial. They frequently end up as “bycatch” after accidentally getting caught in fishing nets.
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