Scientists have determined that dugongs are “functionally extinct” in Chinese waters.
During the 20th Century, dugongs “experienced a serious population decline in China . . . and their regional status is poorly understood,” according to a new study published this week in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
Out of 788 Chinese seamen interviewed by scientists, only about 5% of them reported even seeing a dugong, with an average last-sighting date of 23 years before, and only three of them said they saw a dugong within the past five years.
According to the study:
“Historical records of dugongs peak around 1960 and then decrease rapidly from 1975 onwards; no records are documented after 2008, with no verified field observations after 2000.
“Based on these findings, we are forced to conclude that dugongs have experienced rapid population collapse during recent decades and are now functionally extinct in China.”
The collapse of the dugong population in Chinese waters “also serves as a sobering reminder that extinctions can occur before effective conservation actions are developed,” the study concludes.
Check out the full study here.