Dugongs Are an Extremely Vulnerable Species

Dugongs are large marine mammals in the same order as manatees, and are often called “sea cows” as a nickname.

The majority of them live in Northern Australian waters…

I’ve had the amazing opportunity to see them out in the wild in Shark Bay off of Western Australia. Fantastic creatures! What an awesome blessing! (I know the video below is of dugongs in Shark Bay, but it will still tell you a lot about them and how they live…)

Dugong bodies are fusiform, which means they are wide in the middle and taper off at both ends.

Their front limbs are more like paddles than fins. It’s tail is similar to that of a dolphin, being “fluked”.

Dugongs graze on seagrasses, which means they stay close to coastal shores, and use a sharply down-turned muzzle, specially adapted to this type of feeding.

Conservation Status:
The Dugong is a Vulnerable Threatened species of animal.

For thousands of years, they have been hunted for meat and oil, and their hides have been used by many different cultures for various reasons.

They are still being hunted, their habitats are substantially degraded, and they often get trapped in nets, not to mention being hit by speedboat propellers, as they stay close to shore to feed.

Apparently, it’s rare to find a dugong, or a manatee for that matter, that doesn’t have some kind of injury or scar from speedboat propellers.

Natural population killers include parasites, predators like sharks, killer whales and crocodiles, as well as storms.

dugong-pdDugongs can live 70 years, and have a very slow rate of reproduction, which makes it difficult for the population of the species to increase.

What’s Cool About Dugongs?
They have small hairs all over their bodies, which allow them to sense the features of their underwater environment.

Females are larger than males and are just under 3 meters long.

Scientific Classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Sirenia
Family: Dugongidae
Subfamily: Dugonginae
Genus: Dugong
Species: D. dugon

For more information on how to save the Dugong, check out: Save The Dugong @ Greenpeace.org

I hope you enjoyed this Mammal post on Exotic Animal Love during Great Barrier Reef Month! Until next time…

Live Exotically,

Kimberly Edwards :)

P.S. For more information on plans to save the Dugong, check out this awesome and information book:

Dugong: Status Report and Action Plans for Countries and Territories Dugong: Status Report and Action Plans for Countries and Territories

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