Indonesian fieldwork starts on the ground and goest into the air

August 22, 2016

ID2 Update: Jan thru June 2016

The first National Symposium on Dugong and Seagrass Habitat was held back-to-back with a meeting on standardized dugong and seagrass survey/monitoring/research methods. Two keynote speakers and 46 participants attended the meeting. Mr Kotaro Ichikawa from Kyoto University presented “Studies on habitat use of dugongs by using acoustic biology” and Dr Himansu Sekhar Das (IUCN Sirenia Specialist Group) gave a skype presentation on the “Dugong and Seagrass Assessment Kit” (the E-Resource Kit). The meeting discussions focused on the draft standardised dugong and seagrass survey/monitoring/research methods, as prepared by LIPI, IPB, WWF-ID and CMB-MMAF.

The first field preliminary survey on dugongs and seagrass was conducted in Alor in the period of 29 May – 06 June 2016. The survey was facilitated by WWF-Indonesia.

The team collected data of seagrass species distribution, biomass, feeding trail, dugong behaviour, Environmental DNA (E-DNA), and socio-ecology information using the CMS Dugong MoU bycatch questionnaire.

The rodeo method to research dugongs was tested during the field surveys but was not successfully performed due to the bathymetry of Alor waters, being relatively deep.

The team also conducted aerial survey using a drone.

Eight species of seagrass were identified, including Enhalus acoroides, Thalassia hemprichii, Halophila minor, Halophila ovalis, Cymodocea rotundata, Cymodocea serrulata, Halodule uninervis, and Syringodium isoetifolium.

The highest seagrass cover was 68% in the project study area. Halophila ovalis had the highest density (565-1082 stands/m2). The average length of feeding trail was 80-100 cm with width of 15-20 cm. There was only one dugong sighted during the survey. Dugong was sometimes sighted while interacting with sea turtles. For E-DNA, 48 water samples have been collected and are now being analysed. Forty six resource persons from the local community were interviewed and the main result was that dugongs had not been hunted since after 1980s.