"Mermaid" or "sea maiden" - that is what this bizarre name of an aquatic mammal means. It is worth noting that in fact the dugong is not much like a mermaid and a sea maiden, but there are still several similarities - these are protruding mammary glands and an unusual tail.

You will not believe! Dugong is the only representative of the genus dugongs of the same family of a detachment of sirens! You can meet him in the Indian Ocean and in the northern waters of Australia. The fact that dugongs quite a few years ago had the ability to get out to land was recorded.


The body of the animal reaches 2.5 - 4 m in length. The dugong weighs up to 600 kg. The female and the male can be distinguished by size: usually the males are much larger. The head of the dugongs is small, it looks disproportionately on such a large body. The trunk ends with a caudal fin that resembles a cetacean tail. The skin of these mammals is thick and rough - reaches a thickness of 2.5 cm. With age, it becomes darker, the belly is slightly lighter than the main color.

Dugong (lat.Dugong dugon)

The dugong has no ears, and his eyes are very small. Lips are weighty and drooping. Thanks to vibrissae located above the upper lip, it is easier for dugongs to pluck algae. 26 teeth in the oral cavity are the norm for a young dugong. The male can also be distinguished by the presence of tusks, into which the upper incisors turn into more adulthood. The bones of the animal are strong and durable.

Where does dugong live?

Dugongs used to have a wide habitat. They could be found off the coast of Western Europe. Today they live only in the waters of the Indian Ocean, as well as in the South Pacific. The largest population of these aquatic inhabitants is recorded in the Torres Strait and the Great Barrier Reef.

A group of dugans in a natural habitat.


Coastal waters and shallow waters are considered a comfortable habitat for dugongs; therefore, they rarely go to the open sea. The main occupation of these animals, which takes up most of their free time, is feeding. They feed in shallow water and in coral reefs at a depth of 1-5 m. Most of all they love seaweed and aquatic plants. They capture food with their fleshy lip, and then rise to the surface for inspiration. Just imagine, in a day this animal absorbs up to 40 kg of aquatic vegetation!

Dugongs eat a lot of plant foods.

They prefer to live alone, but are sent for feeding in groups of 3-6 goals. They do not like to migrate, therefore they prefer a settled lifestyle. Some animals make seasonal movements, which are affected by water level and temperature, food availability and human exposure. The speed of dugongs is unpresentable - 10 km / h, but in a state of fear they accelerate to 18 km / h. During swimming, tail and fins are used.

Dugongs are very quiet animals. Only the lucky can hear their whistle. They publish it only when frightened or excited. They see very poorly, but their hearing is well developed. Dugongs cannot live in captivity.


Dugongs breed all year round. The place where animals continue their species does not matter. Having chosen a suitable female, the dugong fights for her, using her tusks. Pregnant females bear the baby year. During one pregnancy, 1 or 2 dugongs are born, which are very mobile from birth. At a very young age, dugongs gather in groups in shallow water. Females feed their cubs for 8-12 months. But babies do not lag behind in development, therefore, already at 3 months they feed on grass on their own. Males do not take part in raising their children.

Courting a pair of dugans in the deep sea.

At a more mature age (9-10 years), dugongs begin an independent life. They live in a natural environment for a long time - up to 70 years, provided there is no danger from sharks, which are the main enemies of these marine inhabitants.

Man and Dugong

Dugong is very much appreciated among poachers. Firstly, dugong meat tastes like veal, so in the gourmet circle it is considered an expensive delicacy. Secondly, fat, skin and bones are also used for various purposes, in particular for the manufacture of ivory crafts. Asians use parts of the animal’s body for a variety of rituals and in medicine. That is why in some habitats these animals disappeared completely or partially.

Despite their large size, dugongs are safe animals.

Today it is forbidden to catch dugongs with nets, therefore harpoons are used for mining. It is worth noting that the dugong is protected by laws of different countries and is listed in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is considered a “vulnerable species”.

Watch the video: What in the World is a Dugong? National Geographic (February 2020).

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