Indonesia: Marine pollution affects dugong habitat in Riau islands water

Antara 18 Jan 16;

Batam (ANTARA News) - The habitat of the dugong mammals in Riau Islands Province has been affected by pollution in the Malaka waters, leading to a diminishing population of the sea animals, an official said here on Monday.

Head of marine and fishery management department of Marine and Fishery Office of Riau Islands Eddiwan said here on Monday that the dugong has been classified in appendix 1, which labels them as being endangered.

Dugongs live in sea grass habitats in a number of areas, including Bintan, Batam and Lingga waters.

"However, those areas have been harmed by marine activities, pollution, exploitation, as well as tin and bauxite mining," Eddiwan said.

Local authorities found some oil spills in the waters, as a result of oil mining in the northern part of the region.

Also, sandblasting in the waters near Singapore has impacted the dugong's habitat, he said.

Those human activities have driven the mammals to leave their habitat and some were stranded along the coast.

Last week, a female dugong measuring 2.5 meter long was stranded at Nongsa water, Batam Island.

The local authority has been collecting data about the dugong population in the region.

"The conservation program is not optimal, as there is too much use of the seas. It disturbs the sea mammals," he said.

The dugong is a herbivorous marine mammal. It is often called the "sea cow" because it grazes on sea grass meadows.

The animal, which is a close relative of the manatee, can be found in the warm waters surrounding Indonesia and Australia.

Non-governmental organization World Wildlife Fund (WWF) stated that dugongs are listed globally as being vulnerable to becoming extinct.

Populations worldwide have become increasingly fragmented and evidence suggested that the numbers are declining because of the degradation of sea grass meadows, fishing pressures, hunting and coastal pollution.

(Reporting by Jannatun Naim/Uu.A059/INE/KR-BSR/A014)

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