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Malay common name: Dugong

English common name: Dugong

Scientific name: Dugong dugon


rank: Vulnerable

Photo Source:

Did you know that there are meadows of grass under the sea? These seagrass beds are where I graze and spend most of my time. This is why I’ve gained the nickname “sea cow” (though I don’t look like a cow). I actually resemble my cousin, the manatee, but there are some key differences. Manatees live in freshwater, whereas I live only in saltwater and my tail looks more like a whale’s. It may be hard to believe but we’re both related to the elephant. I’m quite large, growing between 2.4 and 4 metres in length and weighing between 230 and 400 kilograms. My eyesight isn’t very good so I rely on my sharp hearing. Don’t be surprised if you hear me producing bird-like calls such as chirps and trills because that is how I communicate with my fellow dugongs. I’m very social and form strong bonds with my babies.

However, I’m quite shy when it comes to humans. I don’t like to get too close so it might be tough to spot me. You can come to try to catch a glimpse of me at Pulau Sibu, Pulau Tinggi, and in the Lawas waters of Sarawak. I come to the surface for oxygen every six minutes, so you might be able to see me near the surface.

You can learn more about me from this video!

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