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Scientific Name: Dugong dugon
The gray-coloured mammals with nostrils at the top of their snout,
spending entire life in sea is called Dugongs and is the order of Sirenia. These animals of water live in the shallow areas and surfaces
out only to breathe. As they graze on sea-grasses they are called as Sea
Cows, and these slow moving creatures have little or almost no
protection against its large predators. These migratory and herbivorous
creatures are found in the shallow coastal water of Northern Australia
as well in parts of Indo-Pacific Ocean. These round-headed sea animal
can grow to almost 335 cm (11 feet) in length and weighs about more than
900 kg (2000 lbs.)
More about the
Similar to dolphins, the dugongs have pointed flippers and they swim by
moving their tail. Their eyes and ears lie on the side of their head.
The Dugongs if given suitable habitat with plenty of food, can live more
than 70 years. It is under water, that dugongs communicate with squeals
and squeaks. The Dugongs share a very close relationship with their
calves. Most of the information on the Dugongs life history is obtained
from animals that get drowned in shark nets or killed by hunters in the
northern Australia. However, it has been found that Dugongs numbers are
dwindling, as they are under human threats. To protect this endangered
species, several legislations have been imposed in Australia.
The causes of decreasing number of Dugongs population in Australia
are far too many:
Direct human threats such as hunting for its meat, as it is
considered to be a traditional cuisine, effective medicine against many
diseases and more importantly for its skin. They are also killed for
using the bones and tusks as ornaments.
Increased fishing activity with use of large nets often destroys the
coral reef resulting in unfortunate accident and killing of the dugongs.
Marine debris has also been considered to be a important factor that
affects the natural habitat of dugong. Additionally, increased pollution
due to oil spill threatens the natural habitat of the dugongs.
Urbanisation also has also led to increased sedimentation, soil erosion,
destruction of coastal vegetation and increased water turbidity that
cannot be good enough habitats for these animals.
Loss in habitat and degradation of ecosystem resulted in reduction in
availability of food for the dugongs.
Dugongs are also natural prey for killer whales, crocodiles and sharks.
When there is increased number of prey animals, there is reduction in
Action plan to protect dugongs...
To protect the endangered species from extinction, several management
agencies have established large inshore Preservation zone. Dugong
hunting has been suspended until the population grows. In Australia,
they have been termed as vulnerable and are listed under Nature
Conservation Act, in Queensland. The most significant step that has been
taken by the Australian Government is to establish Dugong protection
area along the coastline. It is in this preserved zone net fishing and
speedboat plying is strictly restricted. Commercial fishers are being
encouraged to take steps and participate in preservation of dugongs and
to provide quality sea-grass habitat for the dugong population to grow.
As of now, Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act
1999, seems to protect this endangered species of animal.