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

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".

Appearance[]

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.

Behavior[]

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.

Diet[]

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.

Lifespan[]

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.

Gallery[]

Facts[]

  • 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.
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