Scientific Name
(Dugong dugon)

Common Names


Close Relatives

The dugong is born a pale albino type colour, and as they age they darken to a deep grey. These great sea creatures weigh anywhere from 250kgs to 910kgs (about 500 to 2000 pounds). They have two flippers that average about 30-50 cms in length. Young dugongs use the flippers to swim, whilst the older dugongs use their tail to swim, and their flippers to steer. Their body has a thin cover of short hair, and tough smooth skin.

They feed on sea grasses and some types of algaes. This makes them aquatic herbivores, however reports of crabs have been found in the stomachs of dugongs. They usually feed in shallow water around two to five metres in depth.

The dugong swims about at a modest speed of around 10 km/h, but reportedly able to swim quite fast. They are also known to emit a whistling type sound, which is believed to happen if the dugong feels threatened.

The dugongs breed throughout the year, and the gestation period is currently unknown but averages around one year. A single calf is born in shallow water. The calf begins feeding intermittently from around three months, and may stay with the mother for up to a year. The calf suckles from the mother underwater which can continue for more than a year.