It’s rare to hear good news about Australia’s ailing Great Barrier Reef, but some of its larger animals are surviving against the odds.
Populations of dugongs—a relative of the manatee—have surged throughout the southern region of the coral reef, according to newly released aerial surveys, taken in November.
What’s more, the rotund marine mammals seem to be experiencing a baby boom. Of the 5,500 animals counted, 10 percent were calves, says the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority report.
The last survey, in 2011, had found no calves at all following a powerful cyclone that stripped away seagrass, the herbivores’ favorite food. (See “3D-Printed Reefs Offer Hope in Coral Bleaching Crisis.”)
Since then, seagrass meadows have recovered along the shorelines, and so have dugongs. Females require a lot of the nutritious plants to have their babies.
It’s “excellent news for this species, which is listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation …