The Dugong can grow to about 10 feet in length, and weigh up to 1,000 pounds. The largest on record topped 13 feet and 2,240 pounds. They feed on sea grass and stay in relatively shallow waters close to shore, although they have been seen as far out as six miles and 112 feet below the surface.
Dugong can live to the age of 50. They also mature late and nurse their young for a long time. These factors contribute to a slow population growth rate. Each female will give birth only a few times during their lifetime.
They feed on selected sea grasses found on the ocean floor, going up to the surface every few minutes for a breath and going back down to feed. There are some populations of the Dugong that have been found to occasionally eat some invertebrates like jellyfish and shellfish, but for the most part, they are vegetarians, as their name, Sirenia, “sea cow”, suggests.
The destruction of their habitat, both by man and nature, as well as the slow rate of population growth, has resulted in the slow drop of this creature’s numbers. Many countries have outlawed hunting of the Dugong, and the IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, has labeled it as a species vulnerable to extinction.