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Dugong

Overview

  • Status
    Vulnerable
  • Scientific Name
    Dugong dugon
  • Weight
    over 800 pounds
  • Length
    nearly 10 feet
  • Habitats
    Oceans

Dugongs are cousins of manatees and share a similar plump appearance, but have a dolphin fluke-like tail. And unlike manatees, which use freshwater areas, the dugong is strictly a marine mammal. Commonly known as "sea cows," dugongs graze peacefully on sea grasses in shallow coastal waters of the Indian and western Pacific Oceans.

Better Choices at the Great Barrier Reef

For decades, the Great Barrier Reef has enjoyed World Heritage Status and been synonymous with diving, tourism and with Australia. But in June of this year, UNESCO threatened to downgrade the Great Barrier Reef to the World Heritage ‘In Danger’ list; a category populated predominantly by war-torn and developing nations. The final decision should be made in 2015.

Great Barrier Reef

Why They Matter

  • Dugongs have become an important tourist attraction. Tourists can swim with them or observe them from boats.

     

Threats

  • Extinction Risk Vulnerable
    1. EX
      Extinct

      No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died

    2. EW
      Extinct in the Wild

      Known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalised population

    3. CR
      Critically Endangered

      Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the Wild

    4. EN
      Endangered

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    5. VU
      Vulnerable

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    6. NT
      Near Threatened

      Likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future

    7. LC
      Least Concern

      Does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, or Near Threatened

Oval seagrass (Halophila ovalis) dugong food Palawan Philippines, 21 April 2010

Dugongs are threatened by sea grass habitat loss or degradation because of coastal development or industrial activities that cause water pollution.  If there is not enough sea grass to eat then the dugong does not breed normally. This makes the conservation of their shallow water marine habitat very important. They also often become victims of bycatch, the accidental entanglement in fishing nets.

Related Species

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