Dugongs around Bribie Island
Sea grass beds make the Moreton Bay Marine Park prime dugong habitat. The dugong, also known as sea cows due to their all-day-long grazing routine, will eat up to 30kg of seagrass a day. Seagrass grows on the shallow banks of the marine park. The shallow waters, along with the need for dugong to come to the surface to breath, mean it is possible to spot the mammals from the surface. It also makes it imperative that boaties take extra caution in dugong feeding areas to avoid injuring any of the animals through boat strike.
Dugongs are gentle in nature, have relatively poor eyesight, rely on sensitive bristles to covering their upper lip and snout to find their food, grow to about 3m in length, can weigh as much as 500 kilograms and can live for more than 70 years. The Department of National Parks estimate the Moreton Bay Marine Park is home to 600-800 dugong.
They are slow breeders, though, calving once every three to five years. Pollution has become an increasing threat to dugong in the Marine Park, diminishing the once abundant sea grass meadows. Where once dugong was found throughout the national park, they mostly stick to the Moreton and Amity banks of the Bay, though can still be spotted in the Pumicestone Passage on occasion.
The Department of National Parks states that unlike other dugong populations, which are usually spotted in singles or pairs, the Moreton Bay dugongs can be found in herds of about 100 dugong. They also do not feed exclusively on sea grass, supplementing their diet with macro-invertebrates (sea squirts).
Don’t be too alarmed if a dolphin suddenly leaps out of the water beside you if you are swimming in either the Pumicestone Passage or on the surf side of Bribie Island. Sightings of dolphins frolicking in the water and hunting for fish are common on Bribie Island. The Department of Natural Resources lists the bottlenose and the threatened Indo-Pacific hump-back dolphin as being resident species.
Birds on and around Bribie Island
The summer months bring between 10,000-15,000 migratory shorebirds to the Bribie Island area. Just like we take a holiday, these birds use their time off to rest in the wetlands and feed-up on yabbies, worms, pipis and other small animals before heading off around April bound for breeding habitats in Alaska, China and Siberia. With more than tens of thousands of kilometres to cover on the wing, the summer months of rest and relaxation are crucial to their survival. The Caloundra Sandbanks area to the north welcome up to 40,000 terns (seabirds with a penchant for international travel) during their northern migration in autumn. Binoculars are not necessary to spy on some of the impressive birds of prey that call Bribie Island home. They include sea eagles, brahminy kites, whistling kites and osprey.
Buckleys Hole at Bongaree, Bribie Island is a sanctuary for more than 190 different bird species.
Bribie Island’s Emu
Eric the Emu is Bribie Island’s unofficial mascot. He is often seen prancing along the street in Bribie Island’s suburbia or resting on a lawn. It is believed he was originally part of a pair on the island, but sadly, is now thought to be a loner.