For centuries, dugongs (Dugong dugon) have captured the imagination of those fortunate enough to encounter them. The only remaining member of the family Dugongidae, this marine giant is a relic of evolution, reminding us of a time when some mammals chose to return to the sea. Though not everyone sees beauty in their bulky builds and bristly mouths, they are indisputably distinct and, as you will read below, a creature worth saving.
The Dugong, Dugong dugon (Muller, 1776) has the distinction of being the largest herbivorous marine mammal and is the only extant member of the family Dugongidae, which together with the family Trichchidae form the four living species of the order Sirenia. All surviving species of the order Sirenia are listed as vulnerable to extinction. This zoological order was named “Sirenia” as these creatures were equated to the legendary mermaids of the olden day sailors.