Life of Sea | Dugong (Dugong dugon) | Dugong is from family Dugongidae. There is only one species in this family. Dugong has close relative with the family Manatee. Compared to other mammals, they are actually more closely related to elephants. This mammal has length about 2.4 to 3.0 meters. The weight is about 230 to 908 pounds. The distribution of Dugongs cover 37 countries. They range from Pacific Ocean to the coast of Africa. The population of Dugongs are coming serious problems. So, they are into vulnerable to extinction by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Sea grass is considered as the most comfortable habitat for Dugong. The protected area such as bays, mangrove and shallow coastal areas are another main habitat for them. It is mentioned that Dugongs will go into shallow waters such as Hirst (sand island) and estuarine to give birth. It is suspected as way to minimize the threat of sharks.
Subfamily: Dugonginae, Simpson, 1932
Genus: Dugong, Lacépède, 1799
Species: D. dugon
Although some sources tells that Dugongs eat all sea grass. But Dugongs eats sea grass the genus Halophila and Halodule. Dugongs have a voracious eating habits. The adults can feed 25-30 kg of wet seaweed every day. Dugongs in the Arena Samudra Jaya Ancol, Indonesia can consume 30-40 kg of sea grass every day. While in the pool shelter in Australia, the Dugongs can eat 50-55 kg of sea grass per day. Dugongs have very low reproductive rate. If they live peacefully without any threat by humans, their population grow just 5% annually. It is because generally Dugongs just gave birth only every 9-10 years. Additionally, when they have lack food availability, they will postpone the mating season. It has been recorded that the oldest female dugong found in Indonesian to be 73 years.
The unique behavior of this species is the child always swim beside its mother especially in dangerous condition. The natural predators of Dugongs are sharks, Killer whale and crocodiles. While the human hunt them for goods of custom needs, food, trade, unintentionally caught by net and injured due to boat propellers. Their habitat degradation is an impact on reducing the availability of their food. The reducing of their food is caused such as mining, reclamation beach, beach cleanups (mostly coastal building construction) and high sedimentation due to deforestation.
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