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Rescued baby dugong euthanised

AN ORPHANED baby dugong that was found stranded on a Townsville beach at the weekend has been put down after State government officials admitted there was nowhere for it to go.

Staff from the Department of Environment and Science said they followed “expert advice” from a number of vets and organised the euthanasia of a juvenile dugong that became stranded on Sunday.

Rangers from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service were assisted by members of the public with the attempted rescue of the dugong calf after it was found washed up on Pallarenda beach.

It was taken to the Reef HQ aquarium for temporary care.

A DES spokesman said despite a number of attempts to refloat the dugong calf, the animal continued to beach itself and its mother was not seen in area.

“As the animal could not survive in the wild without its mother … the department has liaised with vets to decide the best outcome for the animal in relation to its welfare,” he said.

“Unfortunately in this situation, experts determined the dugong should be euthanised to prevent further suffering.

“A release into the wild without its mother would likely have only prolonged its suffering.” The DES spokesman said appropriate housing facilities to care for dugongs in captivity didn’t exist in Townsville and were not available in other parts of Queensland.

“DES staff wish to thank the members of the public who assisted in the attempted rescue by reporting the dugong to the appropriate authorities,” he said.

Roxana Caha is a Townsville-based environmental professional and photographer and captured photos of the rescue.

“It was such a privilege to be part of the rescue of such an iconic animal, and to be able to document the rescue so that the experience could be shared with others,” she said.

“I have been a keen scuba diver for over 15 years and had never seen a dugong in the wild so this is an experience I will never forget.”

Stranded marine animals should be reported immediately to the RSPCA on 1300 264 625 (1300 ANIMAL).

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