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Dugong dugon

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Dugongs inhabit coastal marine zones in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Unlike manatees, they never venture into fresh water. More to come...

Elandra, our Dugong Ambassador (scientific name Dugong dugon), is named after an Aboriginal word meaning "Lives by the Sea". She represents the only living species of dugong, which is widely distributed in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Although most of the research has been done in Australia, dugongs are found from the southeast coast of Africa and west coast of Madagascar, north to the Arabian peninsula, east to India, Thailand, Indonesia, Papua-New Guinea, the Philippines and as far north as Japan. Dugongs are quite different from manatees and are actually more closely related to the extinct Steller's sea cow than to any living species of manatee. They are never found in fresh water, but spend all their time in salt water where they feed on sea grasses. Dugongs are easy to distinguish from manatees by their "whale-like" flukes in place of the typical "paddle-like" manatee tail. Dugongs also have tusks, which are absent in all the manatee species. They may live to be greater than 70 years old in the wild, but are threatened by habitat degradation and other environmental impacts.

Photo (c) Doug Perrine/Innerspace Visions; Elandra, SI's Dugong Ambassador (c) Sirenian International, Inc.

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