Dugong

The dugong is a medium sized marine mammal. It belongs to the order of Sirenia. There are only four living species of this order. Dugong is the only representative of the family Dugongidae. Its closest relative is a Steller’s sea cow, which was hunted to extinction in the past! Dugong is dependent on sea grass, so it is restricted to the coastal habitats. Dugong has a fusiform body, without hind limbs or dorsal fin. It is best known for the dolphin like tail. It is adapted for feeding from the sea floor, so it has unique teeth and skull.

Dugong was hunted through history for its oil and meat. Today it’s being hunted in a several places like Australia and Pacific Islands.

Because of excessive hunting this specie is close to extinction, so, all products from this animal are banned! It is extremely hard to increase their population, because their life span is more than 70 years, and they are reproducing slowly! Dugongs live in warm coastal waters from the eastern coast of Africa to the western Pacific Ocean. Over the last 50 years they disappeared from the waters of: Taiwan, Honk Kong and Mauritius. Their population in the waters of: Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines is seriously low.

Dugong reach their sexual maturity between age 8 and 18. The females give birth for the first time between ages 8-17. But, this isn’t scientifically proved! According to one research, they may give birth at the age 6. Males lose fertility at old ages. Although they live long, female dugong will have birth only several times. The time between births vary from 2 to 7 years!

 

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