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What is dugong? Another marine mammal that we all need to protect from ourselves

Updated on September 2, 2012

What is dugong looks like?

Dugong one of the less heard of marine mammals that live in ocean. Have you ever heard the term sea cow before?

Yes either dugong or sea cow named after the same amazing creature and even in several parts of this world people would often refer dugong to a mermaid.

If you look at glance or from a distance then a dugong may appear to be like an overweight dolphin, or blubbery seal. Dugongs have a pair of front fin that resemblance to arms.

The fins have the ability to paddle and carrying the huge dugong weight in a steady and slow pace. The flat tail, similar to whales, and also powerful. This marine mammal can grow up to 3 meter in length, and a whopping weight of 300 kilogram sometimes can reach up to 500 kilogram.

The round head shape equipped with small eyes and nostrils just closer to the top of their heads. On the upper lips there is stand straight thick hairs that aid to position their feed. The lips able to curl up when breathing on water surface and to draw more oxygen into the lung.

Just like dolphin,dugong lack of good vision or ability to see far distance. However, they have exceptional hearing power to cope their weaker seeing ability.


What is dugong ideal habitat?

Dugong lives and distributed around Indian Ocean, and west Pacific Ocean, shallow water of northern Australia coast, most south East Asia and china coasts.

You can find dugong mostly on shallow waters with plenty of sea grass growing as their primary food source.

The largest dugong population in the world can be found in Shark bay marine parks of west Australia.

Dugong distribution


What is dugong most unique behavior?

Judging from their weight alone, you can instantly guess dugong has big appetite, bigger than other sea mammals in general. Sea grass is the most sought after meal followed by fish.

In a day, they can eat from 25 to 30 kilogram of sea grass.

When dugongs look to hunt for fish, they would go to deeper water.

Needless to say, dugong loves to swim around in shallow water areas where sea grass usually grows. Dugong swims in herds, a smaller group with 2 or 3 members each.

They can communicate with each other by chirping, squeaking, and barks kind of sounds. They swim relatively slower than other marine mammals, only 10 kilometers each hour.

Dugong can swim underneath water and hold their breath no longer than 6 minutes, not very long in comparison to dolphin and other sea mammals.

Dugong Conservation Western Australia

Shark Bay Marine Park, Denham, Western Australia, Australia:
Denham WA 6537, Australia

get directions

Dugong breeding facts

The sea cow has considerable low fertility rate.

Mature dugongs start reproducing by the time they reach the age of 10 years.

In general, a female can give birth to only one baby dugong or a calf once every 3 or 7 years.

The pregnancy period will last around 13 months, and they will move to shallow water when the time for giving birth comes and also to avoid sharks their main natural predators.

Just like any other marine mammals, the mother would stay and gives milk to the baby dugong until 18 months old.


What is dugong population main threat?

Despite of wide distribution scale globally, dugong is still threatened. Human have hunted dugong for the meat.

The male’s tusk can be used as exotic smoking pipes. Some people believe that extracting oil from dugong can heal respiratory tract infection and arthritis.

Dugongs can only move slowly makes it easy for saltwater crocodile, killer whale, and big shark to hunt them.

Dugong is widely protected worldwide since declared as one of those endangered species.

Another beautiful creature facing extinction, we all should take more attention and act to protect and support conservation programs.



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    • greeneryday profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Some tropical country

      alocsin , thanks a lot, I for your comment and the vote..

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I like these animals a lot -- they look so cute. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • greeneryday profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Some tropical country

      Om Paramapoonya, yes it does looks like an overweight dolphin, thanks for stopping by and leave a comment.. cheers

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      6 years ago

      Very interesting hub. I had never heard of this funny-looking marine creature before. From a quick glance, it really does resemble a fat, sluggish dolphin.

    • greeneryday profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Some tropical country

      Hi, JoanCA yes you are right dugong and manatees are related, thank you for adding this information...

    • JoanCA profile image


      6 years ago

      I hadn't heard of them either. But I love manatees and I just checked to see if they're related and they are. They're all part of a group called Sirenia.

    • greeneryday profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Some tropical country

      Mhatter99, glad that you read this hub, thank you

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      This is one of many animals I have never before heard of. Thank you for helping correct this.


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