The dugong is a sea creature. It is one of four living species in the order Sirenia, including three manatees species. It is the only member of the once-diverse family Dugongidae that is still alive. Its closest living relative, Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas), went extinct in the 18th century because it was hunted to extinction.
The waters of about 40 countries and territories in the Indo-West Pacific are home to the dugong. It is the only sirenid that lives there. The dugong depends on seagrass communities for most of its food, so it can only live in coastal areas with seagrass meadows. Most dugongs are usually found in wide, shallow, protected areas like bays, mangrove channels, the waters of large inshore islands, and the waters between reefs. People think that the dugong lives in the northern waters of Australia, between Shark Bay and Moreton Bay.
Dugong Vs Manatee
Do you know the differences between manatee and dugong? Manatees have horizontal tails that look like paddles and only have one lobe that moves up and down when the animal swims. It looks like a beavertail. A dugong’s tail is fluked, meaning it has two separate lobes that meet in the middle. A dugon has a broad, short, and trunk-like nose.
Where Are Dugongs Found?
These huge vegetarians live in warm coastal waters from East Africa to Australia, including the Pacific, Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean.
Dugongs are related to manatees and look and act like them, but their tails are curved like those of whales. Both are related to elephants, but the big land animal doesn’t look or act anything like either of them.
Behavior of Dugong
Dugongs eat underwater grasses all day and night. They use their bristled, sensitive noses to find them and their rough lips to chew them up. The longest time these animals can stay underwater is six minutes. They sometimes “stand” on their tails with their heads out of the water to breathe. A dogong spends most of its time alone or in pairs, but sometimes you can see a hundred of them altogether.
Reproduction and Conservation
After a year of pregnancy, a female dugong animal gives birth to one calf. The mother helps the calf reach the surface and take its first breath. For about 18 months, a baby dugong stays close to its mother and sometimes rides on her broad back.
Hunters on the coast have been after these slow-moving animals for a long time because of their meat, oil, skin, bones, and teeth. Dugongs are now protected by law everywhere they live, but their populations are still in danger.
Some people think that ancient stories about mermaids and sirens were based on dugongs.
Ecology And Life History
Dugongs live a long time. The oldest one ever seen was 73 years old. They don’t have many natural enemies, but their young are at risk from crocodiles, killer whales, and sharks. A dugong has also been known to die from shock after being struck by a stingray barb.
Dugongs get sick from a lot of different infections and parasitic diseases. Some of the pathogens that have been found are helminths, cryptosporidium, different kinds of bacterial infections, and other parasites that have not yet been named. Since 1996, about 30% of dugong deaths in Queensland are thought to have been caused by disease.
Importance For Humans
In the past, dugongs were easy to kill by hunters who wanted their meat, oil, skin, and bones. Anthropologist A. Asbjrn Jn said that dugongs are often thought to be the inspiration for mermaids and that hunting dugongs are a big part of cultures all over the world. It is still a very important animal in some places, and the growing ecotourism industry around dugongs has helped some countries’ economies.
Tambun Cave in Ipoh, Malaysia, is a wall painting of a dugonh that dates back 5,000 years. It looks like Neolithic people made it. Lieutenant R.L. Rawlings found this in 1959 while on a routine patrol.
What Is A Dugong?
The dugong is a sea creature. It is one of four living species in the order Sirenia, including three manatees species.
Why Are Dugongs Endangered?
The loss or damage of seagrass habitats by coastal development or industrial activities polluting water threatens dugongs. If there isn’t enough sea grass for the dugong animal to eat, it can’t have babies. This makes it very important to keep their habitat in shallow water in the ocean.
What Do Dugongs Eat?
Because they eat seagrass, dugongs are sometimes called “sea cows.” These sea plants look like grass. They grow in shallow, warm water on sandy sea floors. Seagrass is an important food for dugongs.
Where Do Dugongs Live?
Dogong, which are often called “sea cows,” eat sea grass in shallow coastal waters of the Indian and western Pacific Oceans.
Are Dugongs Endangered?
The dugong’s range is broken up right now, and many populations are thought to be close to going extinct. The IUCN lists the dugong as an endangered species and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species limits or bans the trade of products made from endangered species.
What Is The Scientific Name Of The Dugong Animal?
The scientific name of a dugong is Dugong dugon.
What Is The Life Span Of A Dugong?
The average life span of a dugong is 70 years in the wild.
How Big Is A Dugong?
A dugong weighs about 510 to 1100 pounds and has a size of a 6 feet man.
Parvaiz Yousuf is a senior SEO writer and editor with an experience of over 6 years, who also doubles up as a researcher. With an MSc zoology degree under his belt and possessing complete Search Engine Optimization (SEO) knowledge, he works as a science journalist for a US-based website and Asian Scientist (A Singapore-based magazine). He also works as Director of Wetland Research Centre, Wildlife Conservation Fund YPJK since 2018. Besides, he has several publications to his name on cancer biology and biochemistry in some reputed journals such as Nature & International Journal of Molecular Sciences, & magazines such as Science Reporter, BUCEROS BNHS, and has an abiding interest in ornithology. He also worked as a Research Associate for JK Policy Institute.