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Integrating Indigenous knowledge, aerial surveys and electronic tagging to develop a baseline for dugong management in the Kimberley and surrounds

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Other Details: 

Kimberly Marine Research Program: Project 1.2.5
Location: Kimberley
Project Leader: Peter Bayliss, CSIRO
Telephone: 07 3833 5905

Final Report

Integrating Indigenous Knowledge and survey techniques to develop a baseline for dugong_WAMSI KMRP Report 1.2.5_Bayliss P_Hutton M_2017_FINAL

Appendix 5. Progress report dugong project 1.2.5 Phase 2_2 June 2016

Appendix 6. Progress report dugong project 1.2.5 Phase 2_1 November 2015

Appendix 7. Progress report dugong project 1.2.5 Phase 2_2 June 2016


Project Summary Update

Project Aims

  • Describe where dugongs are and their important habitats using aerial surveys
  • Count dugongs to estimate the population number
  • Describe the movement patterns and dive behaviour of dugongs in their habitat

Project Methods

  • Fly two surveys, one during the dry (August) and one in the wet (February)
  • Use a six-seater plane with a pilot, survey leader, and four observers onboard
  • Fly straight line transects at 150 m altitude at a speed of 186 km/hr
  • Count all dugongs within a 200 m strip on each side of the aircraft
  • Record environmental conditions throughout the flight including turbidity, sea state cloud cover, and glare .
  • Estimate the total dugong population using the counts and corrections for dugongs missed because of the conditions and because they were under water
  • Attach satellite tags with dive recorders to up to 10 dugongs
  • Download GPS tracks of the dugongs from the satellite via the internet to their movements, diving behaviour and habitat use

Proposed location for the project

Kimberley Coast

Project duration July 2013-2016


  • Increased knowledge of dugong numbers and habitat use in this area
  • Information to support management of the Kimberley marine parks
  • Build on work by the Bardi Jawi rangers and DEC in the southern Kimberley
  • Information to support the North Kimberley Saltwater Country Plan
  • Identify potential future Indigenous Protected areas
  • Combine indigenous and western knowledge of dugong distribution and movements


Bayliss P. Integrating Indigenous knowledge and survey techniques to develop a baseline for dugong management in the Kimberley. 2017 WAMSI Research Conference (video of presentation) Presentation slides

Waples K, Bayliss P, Field S. (2017)  Integrating science into marine conservation management: a knowledge exchange framework that enhances the delivery of science into management action. 22nd Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals. (Abstract) (Presentation Slides)

Bayliss and Hutton_dugong presentation_ Broome Yawuru Karajarri (October 2017)  (Presentation slides)



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