Animal Database

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Animal Database
Animal Database
Range Indo-Pacific
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Sirenia
Family Dugongidae
Genus Dugong
Species D. dugon
Conservation Status

The Dugong is a species from the Dugong genus. It is also the only sirenian in its range, which spans the waters of at least 37 countries throughout the Indo-Pacific, though the majority of dugongs live in the waters of Australia and Southeast Asia. It is pronounced "DOO-gong".


The dugong's body is large with a cylindrical shape that tapers at both ends. It has thick, smooth skin that is a pale cream colour at birth, but darkens dorsally and laterally to brownish-to-dark-grey with age. The colour of a dugong can change due to the growth of algae on the skin. The body is sparsely covered in short hair, a common feature among sirenians which may allow for tactile interpretation of their environment. These hairs are most developed around the mouth, which has a large horseshoe shaped upper lip forming a highly mobile muzzle. This muscular upper lip aids the dugong in foraging.


Though they do travel long distances, Dugongs are not a migratory species. They are solitary creatures, though can be found in pairs. Despite their solitary nature, Dugongs constantly communicate with one another through a series of echoing noises.

Female Dugongs can give birth to one calf per pregnancy and have a 70-year lifespan. Young Dugongs stay with their mothers for the first few months of life.


Dugongs, along with other sirenians, are referred to as "sea cows" because their diet consists mainly of sea-grass. When eating they ingest the whole plant, including the roots, although when this is impossible they will feed on just the leaves.


Dugongs are long lived, and the oldest recorded specimen reached age 73. They have few natural predators, although animals such as crocodiles, killer whales, and sharks pose a threat to the young, and a dugong has also been recorded to have died from trauma after being impaled by a sting ray barb.



  • Dugongs are more closely related to Elephants than Whales or Dolphins
  • The Dugong’s brain only makes up 0.1% of its bodyweight. Roughly 300 grams of 400kg
  • Dugongs only give birth every 3-7 years
  • Dugongs sing to each other all the time, using chirps, whistles, barks and other sounds.