The Dugong is a large species of aquatic mammal located from East Africa to Australia, including the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and Pacific. This species is a familiar sight to any inhabitants or tourists who visit the coastal waters of the world’s tropical regions. It moves through the water with a slow pace and chews up the grass on the bottom of the ocean floor to survive. Its herbivorous lifestyle and moderate temperament have earned it the nickname of the sea cow or the sea pig. Though not yet endangered, the dugong may be vulnerable to human activity and coastal development. The scientific name of the dugong is simply Dugong dugon. This name probably comes from the local Visayan word for the species, which was later picked up by Europeans. Visayan is spoken in what is now the modern-day Philippines. The dugong is one of four living members of the order Sirenia — the others being three species of manatees — and the only living member of the family Dugongidae. A second member of the family, Steller’s sea cow, was driven to extinction in the 18th century due to over-hunting. Nineteen total genera from the family are known from the fossil record. Dugongs are large, elongated mammals with a down-turned snout and thick brown or grey skin. The technical term for the body shape is fusiform. This means their bodies are shaped like a spindle that is tapered at the ends. Dugongs can measure anywhere between 8 and 10 feet in length and up to 1,100 pounds in weight. Their immense weight is owed to the thick layers of fat surrounding their bodies to comfortably insulate them when the water turns cold. They are powered through the water by moving their dolphin-like fluked tails up and down, while their paddle-like front flippers help them steer and manoeuvre. They lack both hind limbs and a dorsal fin.
Keywords to learn
Temperament: A person’s or animal’s nature, especially as it permanently affects their behaviour
Genus: A principal taxonomic category that ranks above species and below family, and is denoted by a capitalized Latin name
Hey Kids, my name is Declan the Dugong and I am very happy to meet you. Learn more about me and my species.
Scientific name:Dugong dugon.
Mass:510 to 1,100 pounds.
Length:8 to 10 feet.
Region Found:Africa to Australia, including the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and Pacific..
Current population trend:Decreasing.
Sexual maturity:8-18 years.
As you have learned, the Dugong is a fascinating marine animal. It gets it nickname “sea cow” because well, it looks like an underwater cow. this amazing animal is important to the control of underwater sea grass populations.
Now that you know more about the Dugong by learning the key data above, be sure to also to check out the fun facts. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.
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Dugong Fun Facts for Kids
- # 1. Dugongs are related to manatees and are similar in appearance and behavior— though the dugong’s tail is fluked like a whale’s. Both are related to the elephant, although the giant land animal is not at all similar in appearance or behavior.
- # 2. Dugongs spend much of their time alone or in pairs, though they are sometimes seen gathered in large herds of a hundred animals.
- # 3. Female dugongs have one calf after a yearlong pregnancy, and the mother helps her young reach the surface and take its first breath.
- # 4. A young dugong remains close to its mother for about 18 months, sometimes catching a ride on her broad back.
- # 5.These languid animals make an easy target for coastal hunters, and they were long sought for their meat, oil, skin, bones, and teeth.
- # 1. Name two areas of water the dugong is found in?
- # 2. What is the average weight of the dugong?
- # 3. What is the average age of sexual maturity for the dugong?
- # 4. What large land animal is the dugong related to?
- # 5. Why is the dugong hunted?