(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
Habitats and Biology:
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.
Dugongs are docile, shy and move for long distances.
These sea cows are slow moving when undisturbed
This population may represent the larger and probably
the only viable population of Dugongs in the whole
Eastern African coast.
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.
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
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.