A group of three dugongs, including one juvenile, has recently been spotted, raising hopes for the dugong population of Mayotte.
Sightings of dugongs in Mayotte, a French Overseas Territory in the Indian Ocean, are very rare. The exact population size is not known, but current estimates stand at less than ten individuals. Because of this low number, encountering a juvenile dugong is a hugely important indicator for the conservation of the species in Mayotte.
According to local fishermen, the abundance of dugongs in the Mayotte lagoon was once relatively high however due to anthropogenic factors, particularly overfishing, numbers have decreased considerably since the 1970s.
The French Ministry of Ecological Transition established a National Action Plan (2021-2025) for dugong in Mayotte, led by the Association des Naturalistes de Mayotte.
The plan aims to prevent further decline of the territories’ dugong population, and to continue improving awareness of the species and its habitat. To meet these objectives, the following activities will be implemented: research into dugong distribution using UAV aerial monitoring and fishermen surveys; research into seagrass (mapping and ecological status); environmental DNA and genotyping research; regional collaborations and working with local communities to raise awareness on the importance of dugong and seagrass conservation.