Friday, March 11, 2011


Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Superorder : Afrotheria
Order : Sirenia
Family : Dugongidae
Genus : Dugong
Species : dugon

Length : Up to 10ft (3m)
Weight : 500-1,100lbs (226-499kg)

IUCN Status : Vulnerable

According to EDGE, the Dugong is one of the most evolutionarily diverse mammals still alive. It's closest known relative, the tragic Steller's Sea Cow, was hunted to extinction in the 18th century. Dugongs belong to the same order as the three extant Manatee species, and that order is more closely related to Aardvarks and Elephants than it is to the other aquatic mammals like Whales and Seals!

Dugongs can be found in the warm coastal waters of the Indian Ocean, stretching from Africa to Australia. They are very seldom found in freshwater. Dugongs were once hunted for their oil and meat, but are now protected through their range. Unfortunately, these large aquatic herbivores still die as the byproduct of net fishing. Because of their large size, Dugongs have very few natural predators. Only large Sharks, Orcas, and large Crocodiles actively hunt them.

Dugongs live exclusively in water, and come to the surface only to breathe. They are able to hold their breaths
for up to six minutes at a time while they feed off of underwater grasses, and they move slowly at speeds of around 6mph (10kph).

Dugongs are typically seen alone or in very small groups, though historically there are reports of herds numbering in the hundreds. Baby Dugongs are born underwater after a one year gestation period, and the mothers push them upwards so they can take their first breaths.

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