The male dugong carcass was found beached at Pulau Sibu, Mersing. Pic courtesy Marine Park Department.

JOHOR BARU: The carcass of a dugong weighing about 100kg was found beached at Pulau Sibu, Mersing last night.

The male dugong was discovered by villagers on the beach of Kampung Lingka, Pulau Sibu at about 9pm.

Bruises on the dugong’s body and mouth indicate that it may have been entangled in a fishing net before its death.

Johor Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said a team from the state Marine Park Department and the MareCet non-profit organisation for marine mammals examined the carcass, and determined that it was a young dugong that had not reached maturity.

"Checks conducted by staff of the Marine Park Department and researchers from MareCet revealed that the dugong could have been caught in a net, based on bruises seen on its body and mouth.

"(It) probably died two to three days ago based on (its) state of decomposition.

"I am very concerned over the death of this dugong, as it is the second such incident this year," said Ayub, who added that the carcass was sent to the Pulau Tinggi Marine Park Centre, where it was later buried.

He said the two incidents will affect efforts to set up the Johor Dugong Sanctuary, which is being planned in an area between three islands off Mersing.

Ayub said there is a need for authorities to expedite the gazetting of the earmarked area, and for stricter enforcement on human activities to avoid similar incidents from recurring.

"The state government has allocated RM1 million for efforts to conserve dugongs in Johor, and this will be done by setting up (the Johor Dugong Sanctuary) that covers a 150,000ha area in waters between Pulau Besar, Pulau Rawa and Pulau Sibu.

"The sanctuary was proposed to protect this species of mammal," he added.

Ayub said there are an estimated 100 dugongs in the planned sanctuary area, which is known for its abundance of sea grass meadows which the sea cow feeds on.

In the earlier incident, a dugong carcass was found floating near a beach at Kampung Tanjung Balang, Pulau Tinggi, Mersing on April 20.

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