Photo copyright Suzanne Challoner.
Dugong, Dugong dugon
Taken at Abu Dabab, Egyptian Red Sea.
Also known as a sea cow, Dugongs feed in the seagrass
beds of the Indo-Pacific. They are the only
herbivorous, truly marine mammal. (The related manatee
spends some of its life in fresh water.)
Being a slow swimmer, you'll find dugongs in sheltered
lagoons and bays in warm water such as are found in
the Red Sea (eg Marsa Alam), East Africa, the Philippines,
They can eat as much as 40 kg (88 lb) of seagrass
a day, leaving distinctive troughs in seagrass meadows. Dugongs are natural prey for sharks, killer whales,
and crocodiles, but they are most vulnerable to
human activities. Hunting has drastically reduced
dugong populations in some areas. Dugong habitat
is under pressure from coastal development,
pollution and other degradation.
More pictures of Dugongs are in the Red Sea rooms of our photo gallery.