OCEAN AMBASSADORS

 

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.

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Down to a few thousands.

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.

Scientific 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 by-products.

 

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