Australia's children are being enlisted in the fight to save dugongs from the multiple threats of coastal development, climate change, and environmental pollution, thanks to the creative mind of marine biologist Dr Mariana Fuentes.
Launching today at the 12Th International Coral Reef Symposium, in Cairns her new book takes readers into the secret world of 'Dhyum', a real dugong living in the Torres Strait.
In 'Dhyum the dugong' the author, Dr Fuentes from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, takes the reader on a charming journey through the dugong's life, from how they are born to how we can protect them.
"The Torres Strait is known as the 'dugong capital of the world' because the seas have the greatest population of these wonderful marine mammals," says Dr Fuentes, who worked closely with the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) and Sea Management staff while writing the book.
"By telling readers about the lives of dugongs such as what they eat, where they live and what harms them the book aims to make young Australians more aware of the sea mammal and its vulnerabilities."
In the book, Dhyum explains to children that "It's very difficult for dugongs to escape from fast moving boats. In areas with lots of boats, dugongs can be hit, particularly if the water is shallow." He encourages them to "learn about dugongs so you can help to look after them. Find out where they live, how they move between places, how big their families are and how their numbers change over time".
"Readers will then understand better how we can protect them. For example, knowing that seagrass the staple food of dugongs dies off when water is too polluted, can encourage the community to keep the ocean clean," Dr Fuentes says.
She also explains current research into dugongs and how the scientific findings are being used to help local Torres Strait Islander communities develop their conservation plan
|Contact: Mariana Fuentes|
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies