Today is World Dugong Day - the celebration of a shy "ecosystem engineer". These enormous vegetarians can be found in warm coastal waters from East Africa to Australia, including the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and Pacific.
Nicknamed the “sea cow” for its bulk and constant seagrass grazing, the dugong is also known as an “ecological engineer” for its unique contributions to the maintenance of critical ecosystems.
Dugongs can live up to 70 years
The average dugong eats up to 40 kilograms of shallow-water seagrass daily, which promotes re-growth of seagrass meadows that capture significant amounts of the carbon dioxide linked with climate change. In fact, seagrass meadows can capture carbon from the atmosphere up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.
These meadows also provide nurseries and food for a diverse range of commercially important fish. So, dugongs are actually contributing hugely to the well-being of the ocean and also humanity.
Dugongs can weigh up to 500 kilos and measure as long as 3 meters
The dugong is listed as globally “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The dugong has become extinct around China and Taiwan, and, according to the IUCN, anecdotal evidence suggests that the dugong has declined in many other parts of its range.
The dugong is likely “highly endangered,” with only about 200 individuals remaining
Dugong play an important ecological role in coastal marine ecosystems, and the status of dugong populations in an area can be used as an indicator of general ecosystem health.
Whether in protection areas or not, take care to avoid injuring or distressing dugongs:
Avoid damaging seagrass an don't drag boats over seagrass meadows.
Take action to prevent pollutants, nutrients and herbicides from agriculture and other land-based activities flowing into creeks and rivers.
Mesh nets - Prohibitions and restrictions on the use of nets by commercial fishers in dugong protection areas are available in the Fisheries Regulations 1995.
Main sources: globallandscapesforum.org, oceana.org, gbrmpa.gov.au
LET'S FIGHT TO SAVE THE MOST ENDANGERED
VAKOVAKO will soon fight to save the most endangered. 100 % of all donations given via our app to „MOST ENDANGERED“ area will by transfered to related NGOs. Let’s help them expand their activities together.