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Strandings hot spots

Update: 2013 floods in southern Queensland

There were continued high levels of rainfall in the catchments of coastal rivers of central and southern Queensland during early 2013. There was resulting elevated flooding in the Brisbane, Mary, Burnett and Fitzroy catchments. It is anticipated that there will be a continuation of elevated mortalities of marine turtles and dugongs in response to coastal habitat damage caused by the river outflows. Historical trends indicate that elevated mortality and stranding rates of marine turtles and dugongs should occur 5 to 8 months following significant floods.

Hot spots

Marine animal strandings occur all along the Queensland coast. However, an increased number of marine strandings have occurred in the Moreton Bay, Townsville and Rockhampton areas since early 2011.

Animals taken by legal Traditional Hunting, a right under Native Title legislation are not included in this summary. Illegal hunting when reported will be included

27°S Latitudinal Block (encompassing Moreton Bay, Southern Pumicestone Passage, Gold Coast Broadwater)

In the Moreton Bay region (27-28°S) 127 marine turtle, seven dugong and five dolphin strandings were recorded between 1 January 2013 and 30 September 2013*.

Of the 127 marine turtle strandings, 33 either escaped naturally or were later released. Of the 94 mortalities:

  • 19 were suspected or confirmed to be from interactions with vessels
  • 10 were suspected or confirmed to be from fisheries-related activities, including entanglement in ropes, crab pots and ghost nets
  • Eight were suspected or confirmed to have been due to natural causes including disease, predation and extended ill health
  • the remaining causes of death are either undetermined or under investigation. 

Of the seven dugong strandings, one was released. Of the six mortalities:

  • One was confirmed to have been due to natural predation.

Of the five dolphin strandings, one either escaped naturally or was later released. Of the four mortalities:

  • One was suspected or confirmed to be from fisheries-related activities, including entanglement in ropes, crab pots and ghost nets
  • The cause of the other three mortalities were not determined.

Below is the total annual number of strandings reports for the Moreton Bay region. This number is subject to change as more records are entered and verified by trained staff.

Animal

2012

2011

Turtles

381

430

Dolphins

21

10

Dugongs

9

21

23°S Latitudinal Block (encompassing Rodds Bay, Port Curtis, Port Alma, Keppel Bay)

In the Rockhampton region (23-24ºS), 66 marine turtle, three dolphin and two dugong strandings were recorded between 1 January 2013 and 30 Septemer 2013*. 

Of the 66 marine turtle strandings, 21 either escaped naturally or were later released. Of the 45 mortalities:

  • Nine were suspected or confirmed to be from interactions with vessels
  • Four were suspected or confirmed to have been due to natural causes including disease, predation and extended ill health
  • One was suspected or confirmed to be from fisheries-related activities, including entanglement in ropes, crab pots and ghost nets
  • the remaining causes of death are either undetermined or under investigation. 

Of the three dolphin mortalities:

  • One was suspected to have been due to natural causes
  • The cause of the other two mortalities were not determined.

The two dugong mortalities were from unknown causes.

Below is the total annual number of strandings reports for the Rockhampton region. This number is subject to change as more records are entered and verified by trained staff.

Animal

2012

2011

Turtles

111

323

Dolphins

5

6

Dugongs

10

12

19°S Latitudinal Block (encompassing from Dunk Island south to Burdekin Delta, including Hinchenbrook, Halifax Bay, Cleveland Bay, Bowling Green Bay)

In the Townsville region (19-20ºS), 102 marine turtle, two dugong and three dolphin strandings have been reported between 1 January 2013 and 30 September  2013*. 

Of the 102 marine turtle strandings, 15 either escaped naturally or were later released. Of the 87 marine turtle mortalities:

  • natural processes including disease and extended ill health were suspected or confirmed to be the cause of death in 20 of the marine turtles
  • Three hatchlings were disorientated by light horizons
  • Eight were suspected or confirmed to be from interactions with vessels
  • One was suspected or confirmed to be from fisheries-related activities, including entanglement in ropes, crab pots and ghost nets
  • the remaining causes of death are either undetermined or under investigation.

Of the three dugong mortalities:

  • One was suspected or confirmed to have been due to natural causes including disease, predation and extended ill health
  • One was suspected to have due to unknown anthropogenic sources
  •  The cause of the other mortality was not determined.

Of the two dolphin mortalities:

  • One was suspected or confirmed to be from fisheries-related activities, including entanglement in ropes, crab pots and ghost nets
  • The cause of the other mortality was not determined.

Below is the total annual number of stranding reports for the Townsville region. This number is subject to change as more records are entered and verified by trained staff.

 Animal

2012

2011

Turtles

322

307

Dolphins

0

3

Dugongs

5

54

In December 2011, changes to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park regulations were put in place to protect dugong populations off Townsville. The amendments changed the rules for commercial net fishing within the southern part of Bowling Green Bay. They include a 'no netting area' and a 'restricted netting area', which limit the size of nets as well as how they are to be used. Read more about the commercial net fishing changes.

With support from the Sea Turtle Foundation, QPWS is working with community groups to build volunteer capacity to assist with response to turtle strandings.

Current up-to-date stranding figures are available.

* All strandings were sighted by either a departmental officer or a trained volunteer, and verified by a trained staff member as being accurate. The cause of death can only be identified in a limited number of cases, when the carcass is at a location where it can be recovered for necropsy (animal autopsy) and is not too decomposed.

Last updated
14 October 2013