Dugong Facts

Dugong Facts
Dugong, also known as "sea cow", is a close relative of manatee. Both groups of animals belong to order Sirenia. Dugong is marine animal that can be seen in warm coastal waters of Red Sea, East Africa, Australia, Japan and Philippines. Graceful swimming of these animals served as inspiration for tales of sirens and mermaids. Population of dugong in the sea decreased drastically in the previous century because of the chemical pollution, uncontrolled hunting and accelerated coastal development. Dugong is protected by law today, but their population is still at low number because of the slow reproduction.
Interesting Dugong Facts:
Dugong is large animal that can reach length of 11 feet and weight of up to 2000 pounds.
Dugong has a flat tail and flippers like a whale, but it is more closely related to an elephant. Dugong has evolved 50 to 60 million years ago, when an elephant-like creature entered the water.
Dugong has large mouth with upper lip designed for bristling of sea grass.
Dugong is a true vegetarian. It eats only sea grass. Dugong can eat up to 88 pounds of seaweed daily.
Before swallowing of the sea grass, dugong will shake its head to eliminate sand from the food.
Dugong breathes using the lungs. It needs to reach the surface of the water every six minute to breathe atmospheric oxygen.
When dugong is located in the shallow water, it can "stand" on its tail with head above the water's surface.
Dugong can live on its own, in pairs or in larger groups. When in the group, dugong uses various sounds to communicate. Most often they use barks, chirp-squeaks and trills.
Dugong is not a very fast swimmer. It normally swims 6 miles per hour, but it can accelerate to 14 miles per hour when needed.
Dugong has very dense and heavy bones which hold the animal submerged under water. Lungs are positioned along the back and they keep dugong in horizontal position during swimming.
Male dugong will develop tusks during puberty, at age between 12 and 15 years. Females usually do not have visible tusks.
Main predators of dugong are killer whales, sharks and crocodiles. Bigger threat to their survival is associated with negative human activity.
Dugong reaches sexual maturity between 9th and 15th year. Males establish and protect their courtship territory. Pregnancy lasts one year and ends with one calf. Female give birth every 3 to 7 years.
Bond between mother and the calf is very strong. Mother helps baby to reach the surface of the water for its first breath. Calf stays with mother usually until the age of 18 months.
Dugong can survive up to 70 years in protected habitats with enough food sources.

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