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Dugong fact sheet

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  • 1. Dugong Fact Sheet:These enormous vegetarians can be found in warm coastal waters from EastAfrica to Australia, including the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and Pacific.Dugongs are related to manatees and are similar in appearance andbehavior— though the dugongs tail is fluked like a whales. Both are relatedto the elephant, although the giant land animal is not at all similar inappearance or behavior.Dugongs graze on underwater grasses day and night, rooting for them with their bristled, sensitive snouts andchomping them with their rough lips.These mammals can stay underwater for six minutes before surfacing. They sometimes breathe by "standing" ontheir tail with their heads above water.Dugongs spend much of their time alone or in pairs, though they are sometimes seen gathered in large herds of ahundred animals.Female dugongs have one calf after a yearlong pregnancy, and the mother helps her young reach the surface andtake its first breath. A young dugong remains close to its mother for about 18 months, sometimes catching a ride onher broad back.These languid animals make an easy target for coastal hunters, and they were long sought for their meat, oil, skin,bones, and teeth. Dugongs are now legally protected throughout their range, but their populations are still in atenuous state.Some believe that dugongs were the inspiration for ancient seafaring tales of mermaids and sirens.Map Fast Facts Type: Mammal Diet: Herbivore Average life span in the wild: 70 years Size: 8 to 10 ft (2.4 to 3 m)Dugong Range Weight: 510 to 1,100 lbs (231 to 499 kg) Group name: Herd Protection status: Threatened Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:

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