Down to a few
The Dugong or sea cow is a large marine
mammal belonging to a group of animals known as Sirenians because
in ancient times sailors who saw sea cows mistook them for mermaids
(sirena). It is the only species in its family (Dugongidae).
Being a mammal, the Dugong has to surface from the water every 5
to 10 minutes in order to breathe air. It is the only remaining
herbivorous sea mammal in the world feeding on seagrasses in warm
tropical and subtropical seas.
name: Dugong dugon
Common name: dugong, duyon, baboy-dagat
Weight: up to 400 kg Length: up to 3 meters long
Distinguishing marks or features: Wedge-shaped tail
that is deeply notched at the midline; front flippers with no evidence
of nails; males have two tusks (the upper incisors) that may be
as long as 10 inches; adults have grayish-bronze hide.
Food: Seagrass; the Dugong spends most of its time
feeding and consume up to 25kg of seagrass per day.
Issues and threats: Adults become sexually active
when they are at least 9 years old and females give birth to calves
only once every 3-7 years. Thirteen months after mating, a single
calf is born. Population growth is so slow that even without exploitation,
in ideal conditions, the Dugong population can only grow by as much
as 5% a year.
Dugongs used to abound throughout the Philippine archipelago, but
its population has declined - and continue to decline - rapidly.
As of 1997, they have been confirmed in only a few places: Palawan,
Romblon, Guimaras, and Pujada Bay, Davao Oriental (with only one
specimen from the last three areas). Many are killed by hunters,
others by boats or by the destruction of their habitat.
Protection efforts: In 1982, the International Union
for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources classified the
Dugong as vulnerable to extinction. In the Philippines, the Department
of Environment and Natural Resources issued Administrative Order
No. 55, Series of 1991, which made the Dugong the first marine mammal
to be protected in Philippine waters. This law prohibits the hunting,
killing, wounding, taking, possessing, transporting and/or disposing
of a Dugong, whether dead or alive, and its meat and any of its