Technical report

File type: PDF

Cleguer C and Marsh H 2023. An inventory of dugong aerial surveys in Australia. Report to the National Environmental Science Program. Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER), Report 23/15, James Cook University.

March 2023


In Australia, the dugong (Dugong dugon) has significant cultural, ecological and conservation value. The species is a Matter of National Environmental Significance and is protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 as a listed migratory and marine species. Since the early 1970s various aerial survey methodologies have been used to provide data on the distribution and abundance of the dugong across northern Australia. The survey designs and platforms have evolved through time, and so have the methods to estimate dugong population distribution, sizes and trends.

An inventory of all dugong aerial surveys across the dugong range in Australia has not previously been compiled making it difficult to obtain a clear understanding of the efforts that have been put to date on surveying dugongs across their Australian range. This inventory compiles information from all dugong aerial surveys undertaken since the first use of this methodology for dugongs in Australia, including date of survey, approach undertaken to survey, latest abundance estimate, relevant reference and link to publication, data availability and location etc. It also provides spatially-explicit maps to represent survey effort to date across the entire known dugong range in Australia. The development of this inventory has also helped identify similarities and discrepancies in the way dugong population estimates, trends and spatial distribution models have been generated.