When people think of Australian beaches they are very quick about popular locations such as Bondi. There are, however literally hundreds of beaches all across Australia that may get less tourist attention, but certainly, deserve environmental attention.
Redcliffe: A former Dugong Refuge
For thousands of years, Redcliffe waters were home to one of the worlds largest populations of dugongs. The clear waters provided by Moreton island act as a perfect shield that allows for rapid growth of seagrass – the dugongs preferred diet. There are currently an estimated 10,000 dugongs left in Australian waters. 10% of this population exists in the small region of Moreton Bay between the Redcliffe Peninsula and Moreton Island. This is significantly lower than the population was pre- 1800s. Despite only having a population of around 50,000 humans Redcliffe Peninsula is by no means safe for the Dugongs. There are many threats to their survival that exist to this day.
Local Redcliffe Electrician Wolfelec has stated that some of the things local residents can do to reduce the strain we put on our oceans. Lifestyle habits such as solar power can reduce the coal burning, composting can assist with decomposing and going plastic-free can help keep our waterways clean.
Threats to the Dugong
Many of the causes of death include:
Hunting and Poaching
Dugongs have become a victim of hunting for their blubber, now an illegal practice. However, across the globe, this is a practice that still continues and has driven the dugong to extinction in many countries. Experts estimate that in order for hunting to be sustainable only 2% of the population may be hunted each year. Unfortunately, real-life figures are much higher.
Boat Related Incidents
Dugongs are unfortunately regular victims of boat strikes. Due to their large size (up to 600kg) Dugongs are slow moving when it comes to avoiding high-speed boats, unlike their much more agile mammal cousins the dolphin.
Food and Destruction of Habitat
The primary food source of the dugong is seagrass. Seagrass used to be found in abundance in the Moreton Bay region due to the low amount of ocean movement disturbing the ocean floor. These ‘fields’ of seagrass are now being damaged by fishing nets and ocean pollution.
Perhaps the most understated course of death for sea animals is fishing nets. ‘Bycatch’ refers to the accidental animals killed as a product of industrial fishing nets. Like dolphins, turtles & seals, more dugongs are killed as ‘bycatch’ then pollution, plastic, hunting and boats all combined. It is all well and good to avoid plastic straws, but the best way to save sea animals is to stop eating them.
What Can Redcliffe Do to Help?
Redcliffe is an unknown jewel of Queensland. It was the first settlement in Queensland. Many believe it was chosen due to the calm waters created by Moreton Island acting as a shield from ocean waves. Redcliffe also had a global influence on the world through The Bee Gees. Redcliffe is now home to a myriad of environmentally friendly forms of entertainment including a non-polluting light show (as opposed to fireworks).