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Dugong

Overview

  • Status
    Vulnerable
  • Scientific Name
    Dugong dugon
  • Weight
    over 800 pounds
  • Length
    nearly 10 feet
  • Habitats
    Oceans

Dugongs are cousins of manatees and share a similar plump appearance, but have a dolphin fluke-like tail. And unlike manatees, which use freshwater areas, the dugong is strictly a marine mammal. Commonly known as "sea cows," dugongs graze peacefully on sea grasses in shallow coastal waters of the Indian and western Pacific Oceans.

Map data provided by IUCN.

New Hope for Marine Life

On November 6, 2012, the Government of Mozambique announced the creation of the second largest marine protected area in Africa. Made up of ten islands off the coast of northern Mozambique, this coastal marine reserve in the Primeiras and Segundas Archipelago will cover more than 4020 square miles and contains abundant coral and turtle species.

Local fishermen

Why They Matter

  • Dugongs have become an important tourist attraction. Tourists can swim with them or observe them from boats.

     

Threats

  • Extinction Risk Vulnerable
    1. EX
      Extinct

      No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died

    2. EW
      Extinct in the Wild

      Known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalised population

    3. CR
      Critically Endangered

      Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the Wild

    4. EN
      Endangered

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    5. VU
      Vulnerable

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    6. NT
      Near Threatened

      Likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future

    7. LC
      Least Concern

      Does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, or Near Threatened

Oval seagrass (Halophila ovalis) dugong food Palawan Philippines, 21 April 2010

Dugongs are threatened by sea grass habitat loss or degradation because of coastal development or industrial activities that cause water pollution.  If there is not enough sea grass to eat then the dugong does not breed normally. This makes the conservation of their shallow water marine habitat very important. They also often become victims of bycatch, the accidental entanglement in fishing nets.

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