Filling critical knowledge gaps on dugongs and seagrass for effective conservation

Currently, there is insufficient knowledge of dugong populations across their range. This is an obstacle to making accurate global population assessments, particularly in developing nations. The regional conservation status of dugongs has been assessed differently in different regions, ranging from Data Deficient in Africa to Critically Endangered in Southeast Asia.

Assessing the status of dugongs is problematic, because of the difficulty in monitoring animals, which often remain underwater for long periods in turbid water in remote areas.

More than half of our projects will collect and analyse data, as well as increase the accessibility of that information to policy and decision-makers. Fishers will be surveyed about incidental catch of dugong. Aerial and acoustic surveys will be conducted to acquire data on dugong population numbers, status and distribution. This research will contribute to updated assessments of dugong and their conservation status at national and regional levels.

Seagrass data will also be extensively collected in the Project countries, using satellite images and field research to assess the health, distribution and abundance of the seagrass ecosystem. The Project will also deliver economic assessment of key ecosystem services by seagrass in two of the Project countries, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

Data on dugongs and their seagrass habitats will be used for the introduction of special management regimes or the establishment/expansion of Marine Protected Areas in dugong and seagrass key areas.

Research and monitoring within the Project are supported by the Dugong Technical Advisors – a group established by one of our key partners, the CMS Dugong MoU Secretariat. The Technical Advisors are specialists with different skills for the conservation and management of dugongs and their seagrass habitats, including conservation of dugong and alleviation of poverty in developing countries.

Research Projects

Total Funding $689,839

Increasing seagrass ecosystem knowledge to enhance dugong conservation (LK5).

Increasing knowledge on dugong distribution at selected sites in north-western Sri Lanka (LK6).

Generating knowledge on dugongs, their critical habitats and threat reduction measures in North-west Madagascar (MG6).

A multi-pronged approach to overcoming knowledge barriers on the ecology and status of dugongs in Johor: Towards critical habitat protection (MY4).

The distribution of dugongs in the coastal waters of Mozambique (MZ2).

Participatory research of additional methods to reduce the impact of the beach seine fisheries on seagrass beds at Vilanculos and Inhassoro (MZ5).

Mapping critical seagrass fisheries habitats in Lau Lagoon, Solomon Islands (SB3).

Identification of priority sites for conservation of dugongs and seagrasses in Timor-Leste (TL1).

Research Interviews

Real people, Real research: Searching for dugong & surveying seagrass in Sulawesi

Discussing dugong

Dugong Database Initiative Indonesia

A Life-long Dedication to Dugong Research

Seagrass Specialist Group Chair, Fred Short, on Seagreass