Dugong (Dugong dugon) is a marine mammal and, together with the Manatees, the only group of herbivorous marine mammals. There are now only one species of Dugong and three species of Manatees left in the world. They are known as “sea cows of mermaids” and are close related to elephants on land.
Dugong can be found in the whole Indo-Pacific. Manatees, the other specie of the same order, is a similar specie of the Atlantic Ocean but lives and feeds in freshwater systems, mostly in river deltas.

Habitats and Biology:
Dugongs are docile, shy and move for long distances. These sea cows are slow moving when undisturbed

but can reach a speed of 10-12 knots when fast swimming. They are easy to identify as they lack a dorsal fin (such as in dolphins and whales) and hind limbs are absent. Dugongs dive with their lungs full of air and can stay submerged for about ten minutes. They can be spotted in groups or alone.

The larger population of these animals in Mozambique seems to be in the Bazaruto Archipelago. Aerial census takes place every year to look at the trends in population numbers in this area.

This population may represent the larger and probably the only viable population of Dugongs in the whole Eastern African coast.

Dugongs are protected in Mozambique. There is a fine applied to those ones responsible for the death of a Dugong.

Why are they a protected species?

• Dugongs have a low reproductive rate. They do not reach puberty until 10 years old and females have only 1 calve at a time with long resting periods between (about 5 years). With a possible life span of around 70 years, a female can not expect to produce more than 12 calves in her entire life!!
• The lost of their natural habitat and feeding ground namely sea grass and the accidental capture and killing in fishermen’s nets.

Email: info@islandquest.co.za
Phone: +27(0)12 329-2917 / +27
(0) 83 773-3774