The Dugong is a discreet animal with a graceful swim. It spends much of its time grazing seagrass. It is thus often described as a sea cow. This characteristic makes it an exclusively coastal animal.
The Dugong is an exclusively marine mammal belonging to the sirenian order. It is a close relative of manatees, but contrary to them, it never grows in freshwater. It is also distinguished by its caudal fin, which is triangular, whereas the manatee’s caudal fin shaped like a rounded paddle. The Dugong also has two characteristic incisors related to tusks (up to 18 cm long).
Frequently injured by motorboat propellers and sometimes hunted for its meat, its coastal habitats are shrinking, mainly due to tourism, pollution, and coastal urbanization.
|Size||3 to 4,5 meters|
|Weight||600 to 950 Kg|
|Habitat and distribution||rivers and coastal areas of East, West, South and South-East Africa, East, West, South and South-East Asia, Australia and the Pacific islands|
The Dugong has a crescent-shaped tail and short flippers. A diurnal animal, it moves daily between the coast and the sea, depending on the tides and food. In some areas, it undertakes longer seasonal migrations, sometimes hundreds of kilometers in search of marine plants and to avoid cold currents. Some Dugongs are solitary, but for the most part, they form groups of 10 to 20 individuals, sometimes 100 or more, with little social structure to repel predators (e.g., Sharks).
In some areas, it moves between the coast and the sea daily, depending on the tides and food. Males court females with sounds and jostling.
The species is monogamous. At birth, after a gestation period of 13 to 14 weeks, the calf is 1.2 m long and weighs 35 kg.