The Dugong (sometimes refered to as a "Seacow") is a mammal,
that is, it suckles its young.
Dugongs are large grey mammals which spend their entire lives
in the sea.
Though Acquatic it breathes air through lungs and has live babies
not eggs like fish
Dugongs swim by moving their broad spade-like tail in an up and down motion,
and by use of their two flippers.
The Dugong may reach 3m in length and weigh almost 500 kgs. They have a
thick layer of fat giving them a distinctly rotund posture, small
paddle-like flippers positioned far forward on the body and a broad,
flattened, powerful tail that resembles the tail of whale.
The ochre brown skin of a Dugong appears smooth, but a really close view reveals
a rough surface covered in pits from which grow short, thick hairs.
Dugongs have 2 nostrils near the top of their heads on a "fleshy lip",
which can curl up to make breathing easier on the surface
In Australia, Dugongs swim in the shallow coastal waters of northern
Australia were they find protection from large waves and
storms. Dugongs surface only to breathe, and never come on to land.
They like to live in large herds, but due to declining numbers are often
now found in smaller "family" groups of between 1 and 3 Dugongs
Female Dugongs give birth underwater to a single calf every three to seven
years. Birth takes place in shallow water and the baby dugong is
able to swim to the top of the water for its first breath.
Baby dugongs are about 100 to 120cm long and weigh 20 to 30 kg.
The calf stays with its mother, drinking milk from her teats and
following close by until 18-24 months of age.
Dugongs reach adult size between 9 and 17 years of age, and have a
lifespan similar to humans,if left alone
Numbers & Location - Australia
The largest remaining dugong population in the world.
In 1991 the northern Australian population was estimated
at approximately 70,000 (??) with 12,500 in the Torres Straits
and 1,700 in the northern Great Barrier Reef.
Dugongs are slow-moving and have little protection against predators. Being
large animals, however, only large sharks, Saltwater Crocodiles and Killer
Whales are a danger to them.
Dugong (Sea Cow) Males have ivory tusks used for fighting during male-male rivalry
as well for uprooting seagrasses.
Young Dugongs hide behind their mothers when in danger.
Dugongs are sometimes called "Sea Cows", because they graze on seagrasses.
These marine plants look like grass growing on a sandy sea floor in shallow,
warm water. Dugongs eat large amounts of seagrass, leaving behind
feeding trails of bare sand and uprooted seagrass.
Dugongs are a protected species in Australia, only traditionally hunted by
Dugongs only live where thee is seagrass, which is being destroyed by
dredging and farm soil being washed into the sea, as well as pollution
Dugongs like dolphins are also accidental victims to large net fishing
On our Great Barrier Reef the Dugong population in 1987 was approax 3,500,
in 4 years (1991) the ppulation was halved to 1,700
Dugongs are definitly an endanged species and are close to extinction as
can be testified by the world wide numbers below
Arabian (Persian) Gulf
hosts the world's second largest population of
dugong, thought to number at least 5,000 to 6,000.
estimate is about 4,000
from Somalia down to Mozambique, occur in hundreds,
Vanuatu (estimated population 400), Palau (under 200), the Solomons etc.
very small numbers in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Papua-New Guinea, Philippines