Learn About The Dugong
Ever wondered where the legends about mermaids come from? Most of them are about the dugong – a huge mammal that is closely related to the manatee.
A vegetarian, the dugong feeds on underwater grasses using its snout to search for yummy bits to chomp on. It lives in coastal waters from East Africa to Australia and can be found in the Red Sea and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Did you know that the dugong can spend up to six minutes underwater before having to come up for air? Often, the dugong will stand on its tail and keep its head just above the surface of the water to breathe. Its tail is really interesting as well – although the dugong is related to the manatee, it has a fluked tail, just like a whale. While the dugong is a solitary animal, at the most travelling in a pair, there have been instances of large herds with almost a hundred animals! A female dugong gives birth after a year-long pregnancy. She has one calf which stays with her for around 18 months, often catching a ride on her back!
Author: Sanctuary Asia, First appeared in: Sanctuary Cub, May, 2013.