Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Dugong - Let's Hear the Voice of the Sea Siren

Hunted for its meat and oil for over a thousand years, the intelligent and friendly herbivorous mammal is now close to extinction. Dugongs or sea cows (Dugong dugon - family Dugongidae, order Sirenia) are now protected in almost all countries, and any distribution of products involving the species is banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

Though dugongs have natural predators such as sharks, crocodiles, and killer whales, the human race has the most significant impact why this beautiful sea creature is almost facing extinction. Seventeen percent of the species population, which amounted to 829 were killed just last year. 

Due to their slow pace even under the water, dugongs often collide with motorboats or become trapped in fishing nets, which accumulated 72 fatalities in the year 2013. 

Another human activity that amassed 276 deaths last year is due to fertilizer runoffswhich causes poisonous algae blooms that stick to the seagrass which dugongs feed on. 

When it comes to disease, which might be caused by parasites or other contaminants in the water, this factor wiped out 115 of the sea creature.

Another reason why we need to be extra careful with dugongs, is because they have a very slow reproduction cycle which is deemed to be helpless in keeping up their numbers.

Aside from the fact that dugongs only bear a single calf every 2.5 to 5 years with a gestation period of 14 months, the calf relies on its mother's milk for 18 more months. What's more why their species couldn't keep up with the population growth?  The male population only becomes sexually mature after 10 years, and the female is known to be up to 17 years.

Sad but true, however, we can help in little ways such as reporting any illegal trades or captivity, being careful with what to use and what to put in our gardens, and campaigning for motor and fishing boats to slow down and save the dugong when encountering one.

No comments:

Post a Comment