What are dugongs

Dugongs are slow-moving vegetarian mammals of the Sirenia order, which also contains the world’s three species of manatee. The dugong’s closest relative was the Steller’s sea cow but that was hunted to extinction in the 1700s.


How big are dugongs?

Dugongs are up to 3m in length and weigh around 500kg

Where do they live?

The species’ range extends from the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf and the east coast of Africa, through the west coast of India, to encompass much of the waters of south-east Asia to the northern edge of Australia. Unlike manatees, the dugong is an entirely saltwater-dwelling animal, the name being a corruption of the Malay duyung, meaning ‘lady of the sea’ or ‘mermaid’.

What do dugongs look like?

Dudong are strange creatures that look a bit like a cross between a seal and a whale. As dugongs mature they grow larger and darker, bearing the marks of tussles with other dugongs.

The notches on each dugong’s tail and its forelimbs, which are modified into flippers, are unique to the individual

Can dugongs breathe underwater?

Dugongs must surface to breathe. Dugongs cannot hold their breath under water for very long so every three minutes or so a dugong has to swim to the surface to breathe.

Ahmed Shawky, environmental researcher for the technical office of the Egyptian Minister of the Environment, found they spent 16 per cent of the time surfacing.

Ahmed has been observing and working to understand declining numbers of dugongs since he discovered that no research had been conducted on the species since 1957

What do dugongs eat?

Dugongs like to graze on seagrass, and spend more than half their time feeding – 58 per cent.

Are dugongs solitary animals?

Dugongs live in pairs, with one mate


How long do Dugongs live for?

Dugongs can live for 70 years