Dugong with Calf

Dugong Range Map
Dugong Range Map (E Africa,
W S & SE Asia, Australia & Pacific Islands)
Latin Name Dugong dugon
Conservation Status Vulnerable
Location E Africa, W S & SE Asia, Australia and Pacific Islands
Colour Brownish/Dark Grey
Length Up to 3 m (9.8 ft)
Weight 250 - 300 Kgs (551 - 661 lbs)
Life Expectancy

70 Yrs

Main Characteristics

Dugongs are large marine mammals. They can grow up to 3 m (9.8 ft) in length and they weigh between 250 and 300 Kgs (551 - 661 lbs).

They have a large body with thick, smooth skin. They are cream coloured at birth but develop a brownish/grey or dark grey colour as they get older. Their underside is slightly paler and they have a sparse covering of hair over their body.

They have paddle-like front flippers which measure between 35 and 45 cms (13.8 - 17.7 inches) in length and they have a "fluked" tail which propels them through the water when they move it up and down.

Their head is rounded with small eyes and they have a large snout. Their upper lip is well developed and it forms a U shaped pad that has two ridges with large, stiff bristles.

Dugongs, like other mammals, must surface to breath, but they cannot hold their breath for very long. Their nostrils are situated on the top of their snout and they are able to close them when they go underwater.

Dugongs have excellent hearing but not very good eyesight and sometimes adult males and older females have small tusks.


Dugongs are found on sea grass beds and in the shallow tropical waters of east Africa, west, south and south east Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands. Areas around northern Australia are where most of the worlds population of Dugongs can be located.

They are sometimes solitary but most form loose groups that average 10 - 20 individuals. During the winter months some Dugongs will migrate to warmer waters.


Dugongs mainly feed upon seagrasses. They eat large amounts of seagrass and they leave a trail of bare sand and uprooted grasses behind them.


After a gestation period of 13 - 14 months, a single calf will be born in shallow water. At birth calves will be 100 - 120 cms (39 - 47 inches) in length and they will weigh 20 - 30 Kgs (44 - 66 lbs). They stay with their mother until they are weaned at 18 - 24 months old. Dugongs reach their full adult size between 9 and 17 years of age.

Dugongs can reach 17 years of age before they start to breed and when they do they will only reproduce every 3 - 7 years.


The main predators of Dugongs are sharks, killer whales and crocodiles.


Subspecies of Dugong include:

Dugong dugon dugon

Dugong dugon hemprichii

Interesting Facts

Dugongs are also known as:
Sea Cow

The name Dugong originated from the malay language "duyung" meaning lady of the sea or mermaid.

Similar Animals

Amazonian Manatee
West African Manatee
West Indian Manatee


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