Turtles & Dugongs

Australia Photo Essay:

Turtles and Dugongs through the eyes of the Torres Strait Islanders.

Turtle laying eggs


Turtle artwork by Dennis Nona


Turtle laying its eggs - artwork by Dennis Nona

The above artwork by Dennis Nona (2010) is entitled Thurr (Tracks of the turtle).

The turtle leaves the water and lumbers against gravity up the beach to lay its eggs. She digs a deep hole where she lays them for incubation and protection from poaching goannas. Once hatched they face even more perils as they run the gauntlet past frigate-birds to get back to the ocean and once in the sea, struggle for survival against predatory fish.

Turtle linocut


Turtle linocut

The above linocut by Alick Tipoti was cut from one block.

In between the turtles you can see a mass of sea-life such as small fish (look in the top left and bottom left of the above image detail).

Dugong and Calf

The above dugong and her calf (in bronze) is ‘Apu Kaz’ by Dennis Nona (2005).

Artwork of Mother dugong teaching her young to feed

Dugongs can live more than 70 years, mostly eating seagrasses at the bottom of shallow seas; because of this they are sometimes called ‘sea cows’.

The above image illustrates a mother dugong showing a young calf how to dive deep in the strong currents that flow around the Torres Strait islands.


All the above artworks were seen at GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane) as part of the Land, Sea and Sky exhibition of contemporary art of the Torres Strait Islands.

It was a beautiful exhibition. All the more enjoyable as where we live – on the edge of the Moreton Bay Marine Park, in the Bay off Brisbane – we often see turtles and dugongs coming up for air when we’re out kayaking  – Such a thrill seeing animals in their native habitat, and of course so beautifully represented in these artworks.

Have you seen a turtle or dugong in the wild?


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5 thoughts on “Turtles & Dugongs

  1. I love the the bronze dugongs… Actually spent the weekend in the deception bay area on the weekend hoping to see a dugong. No luck maybe next time.

    The linocuts look great as well..

    • The dugongs are more illusive I think than the turtles, whose little heads pop up for air more frequently?
      Only once had a dugong experience in a kayak – brief but powerful!

      Yes, the bronze dugongs are sometimes on general show at GoMA – and they are so beautiful. 🙂

  2. My sister and I have been having an amazing trip in Australia. We arrived in Sydney and spent three days touring many sites then traveled by train all day to the North near Brisbane to our sister Polly’s home in the sub tropics country. We just returned from a four day visit to Brisbane and Russell Island too. Exotic vegetation is amazing as well as the wild life. Beautiful museums, great shopping and food to satisfy any dreams. We have so many memories to fill our Journey Jotting Maps and cards. Now we are planning for our next adventure in the land of OZ.

    • Hi Susan ~
      So pleased you’re having such a great trip ‘Down Under’…
      and of course that you’re enjoying your Journey Jottings 😉
      Look forward to hearing more about your travels 🙂

  3. Pingback: Wagging Work... or, Seize the Day!

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