Ben Cropp - The elusive mermaid
THE DUGONG is an elusive animal, thought to have given rise to the legend of the mermaid. Around the world, Dugong have been hunted to near extinction. Australia is their last sanctuary, and even here they are on the decline from gill netting and indigenous hunting. BEN CROPP searches the tropical waters for this endangered species. In Shark Bay, Western Australia, he finds a healthy, huge herd. But on the east coast there is a fifty percent reduction in numbers. In the Torres Strait, Ben films indigenous hunters harpooning Dugong. The hunters are held in high esteem, for as well as being an important food source, Dugong are of great social and cultural significance to these people. In Vanuatu, Ben meets a most friendly Dugong that loves to hug and nuzzle divers and shows remarkable intelligence in the way it captures turtles and brings them back to the natives as an offering of friendship.