Dugong owes much of their popularity to the many mermaid legends. In fact the name Dugong owes its origin to Malaysia term ‘duyung’, meaning lady of the sea or mermaid. These water creatures though hardly boast of the lovely looks of a mermaid, are loved for the grace that they exude while swimming through water. Dugongs, also popularly called the ‘Sea Cow’, are the only existing herbivorous animal that is strictly aquatic in nature and the only surviving specie from the family of Dugongidae, following the extinction of Steller's sea cow in the 18th century. They are often called as the sea cows, since their diet mainly consists of sea-grass. Because of their big built, dugongs move slowly through water and hence are more vulnerable prey of predators like Killer Whales and Saltwater Crocodiles. Though they are aquatic animal, the basic nature of Dugong is quite unlike the other piscine mates. Dugongs breathe through their lungs and do not lay eggs, but give birth to calves. Read on to know interesting information on Dugong.
Facts About Dugong
Length: 3 m
Weight: 300 kgs
Lifespan: 70 years
Habitat: Warm coastal waters from East Africa to Australia
Age of Sexual Maturity: 4-17 years
Gestation Period: 13-15 months
Number of Offspring: One calf at a time
Interesting & Amazing Information On Dugong
- Did you know that Dugong or the ‘sea cow’ is the only herbivores marine mammal? Dugongs love to feed on sea grass and consume around 50 kilograms of sea grass each day.
- Dugong uses their flippers to move over the seabed, as they graze and root out an entire sea grass plant without effort. What’s interesting is that Dugongs shake their heads to get all the sand off their food.
- Though the piscine resembles the shape and size of a dolphin, Dugongs are more closely related to elephants than any sea animals.
- The appearance of Dugong is just as intriguing as its name. These water mammals have a pear-shaped body and are usually brown in color. They have a flattened fluked tails that might make you think if they are close kin of dolphins. They have large mouth and bristled upper lips. They also have paddle-like flippers and a distinctive head shape.
- Dugongs do not have fins, which distinguish them from their other water mates.
- Dugongs prefer to live on the shallow warm waters.
- There are about 80,000 dugongs in Australian waters.
- Shark Bay Marine Park has the largest population of dugongs in the world with more than 10,000 living in the bay.
- Since this water creature is facing life threats now, Dugongs have been claimed as protected specie and is basically found only in marine parks, marine reserves or proposed marine parks.
- Dugongs have been listed as vulnerable sea animals, as they are being unremittingly hounded for their meat, oil, skins, bones and teeth. They run a risk from water predators like sharks, crocodiles and killer whales. Also fishing gears and coastal pollution are two of the major threats for these slow moving water creatures.
- Dugongs move in herds. They use chirp-squeaks, trills and barks to communicate. As they slowly and gracefully swim through water, they leave behind a cloud of sand.
- The average swimming speed of a Dugong is about 10 km per hour. However, the sea animal is capable of swimming up to 22 km per hour. Unlike other marine mammals, dugongs cannot hold their breath under water for very long.
- Although the age of sexual maturity of Dugongs is usually 9 or 10 years, sometimes it takes 15 years for a Dugong to reach its sexual maturity.
- A female dugong gives birth to only one calf every 3 or 7 years. The mother Dugong moves to shallow water when expecting.