Thirtieth Anniversary of Serena the Dugong – International Mermaid Symposium

Toba, Japan, 23 February 2018 –  Dr Donna Kwan from the CMS Dugong MOU Secretariat attended the International Mermaid Symposium in Toba, Japan on 22-23 February 2018. The Symposium was hosted by Toba Aquarium, Mie University and Kyoto University and focused on the theme of ‘Dugongs: Global Status and Future’.

The Symposium celebrated the 30th anniversary of Serena the dugong, who has called Toba Aquarium home since 1987. The Symposium commemorated the important contribution of the ecological knowledge of dugongs that Toba Aquarium has made in caring for Serena.   Dr Kwan gave a presentation at the Symposium on Global Dugong Conservation Efforts. Other speakers at the event included Dr Kotaro Ichikawa, Dr Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong, Dr Janet Lanyon, Prof Helene Marsh, member of the Dugong Technical Group, Dr Louisa Ponnampalam and Dr AA Yaptinchay.

Serena, a female dugong, was originally found in Philippines in October 1986 when she was less than one year old. It is thought that she became separated from her mother. Serena was moved to Toba Aquarium in April 1987 where she was raised by staff. As a juvenile, Serena had a male green turtle as a companion. Toba Aquarium ran a dugong breeding programme, with the first observed mating behaviour of dugongs occurring in 1984. Serena was first introduced into the breeding programme in 1995 however the programme was unsuccessful and the male dugong died in 2011.

Presentations of particular interest to the Dugong MOU included Prof Marsh’s update on the global conservation status of dugongs; Dr Lanyon’s presentation on the assessment of the health and stress condition of live dugongs; Dr Kotaro’s research results from passive acoustic monitoring in Malaysia, Sudan and Thailand and national updates on current research activities in Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. Presentations from a number of Japanese researchers gave an overview of the history of Serena.



Last updated on 08 March 2018

Dugong dugon