The sea's gentle giants need your support
Dugongs are shy mammals, with an appetite for seagrass! They are sometimes referred to as the ‘sea cow’ because of the copious amounts they eat.
Thanks to this healthy appetite, dugongs help to maintain our coastal marine ecosystems. Seagrass is a critical component of our oceans, just like coral reefs. When seagrasses are eaten it encourages the regeneration of more seagrass, which provides critical habitat and feeding areas for other important marine species like turtles, sawfish and dolphins.
Dugongs are cousins of the manatee. They share a similar plump appearance but have a dolphin fluke-like tail instead of paddle-shaped. And unlike manatees, which live in freshwater, the dugong is strictly a marine mammal found in shallow coastal waters like the Great Barrier Reef. Australia is an important refuge for dugongs, and is home to the largest, and globally most important population.
Female dugongs give birth to one calf at three to seven year intervals, with the baby dugong staying with its mum for up to two years. These low breeding rates, long-term care of their calves and dependence on seagrass, make dugongs vulnerable to human threats.