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Dead ‘Dugong’ Sighting on Fijian Shore Surprises Villagers

Dead ‘Dugong’ Sighting on Fijian Shore Surprises Villagers
From left Malelei Veidreyaki and Vilikesa Karalo with the dead Dugong at Kiuva Beach Tailevu on May 20,2018.Photo:Simione Haravanua.
May 21
11:00 2018

The public is advised to contact the fisheries depart­ment or the University of the South Pacific (USP) should they spot a rare sea creature dead or alive on our shores.

The notice comes after the carcass of a sea creature, declared a dugong by a marine biologist, was spotted washed ashore yesterday at Kiuva Beach, Tailevu, by two villagers of Nasemila.

Such rare findings could present an opportunity for the authorities to study and investigate why or what caused its death and why or how it was in our shores.

USP lecturer Susanna Piovano, a trained conservation biologist in­terested in marine/aquatic biology and behavioural ecology, declared to Fiji Sun that the dead sea crea­ture spotted in the shores of Tai­levu was a dugong.

A Dugong lying dead at Kiuva Beach Tailevu on May 20,2018.Photo:Simione Haravanua.

A Dugong lying dead at Kiuva Beach Tailevu on May 20,2018.Photo:Simione Haravanua.

The carcass was spotted by Vi­likesa Karalo, 24, and Maleli Vei­dreyaki, 27.

“We just came to walk along the beach and we saw something float­ing near the shore. We thought it was some wood, but as we got clos­er, we realised that it was some sort of sea animal,” Mr Karalo.

They had also assumed that it was a dead seal.

“We touched it, it was not moving and then we dragged it ashore.”

The villagers have burnt the car­cass, fearing that its blood may draw sharks closer to an area where many children from the village use as a popular swimming spot.

From left Malelei Veidreyaki and Vilikesa Karalo with the dead Dugong at Kiuva Beach Tailevu on May 20,2018.Photo:Simione Haravanua.

From left Malelei Veidreyaki and Vilikesa Karalo with the dead Dugong at Kiuva Beach Tailevu on May 20,2018.Photo:Simione Haravanua.

Dugongs are herbivorous mam­mals that are restricted to coastal waters. Dugongs are known to be hunted for their meat and oil. The IUCN lists the dugong as a species vulnerable to extinction, while the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) limits or bans the trade of derived products.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: sheenam.chandra@fijisun.com.fj

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