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Dugong drops by seaside village

12th August, 2017


SANDAKAN: Kg Rumah Murah Sim-Sim was abuzz when an unlikely visitor – a dugong – visited the seaside village yesterday.

Many were excited to catch a glimpse of the marine mammal but they also understood that the authorities must be notified of the creature.

The Wildlife Department was informed of the dugong which is known to be found in the warm waters surrounding Indonesia and Australia.

The mammal is a protected animal under the Wildlife Protection Enactment 1997. According to district wildlife officer, Hussien Muin, the department with the assistance of the Wildlife Rescue Unit has been monitoring the waters after the information was received.

“We have contacted the Marine Faculty of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) on the matter,” he said. UMS would send a research team to gather data.

A police report was also lodged by the department, Hussien said. Although the dugong can be found widely throughout the Indo-Pacific tropics, the highest population of the dugong is concentrated around northern Australia.

The dugong and the manatee are very closely related and can look almost identical until you look at their tail. The tail of the dugong is typically forked like the tail of a shark, where the tail of the manatee is broad and flat, and slightly more flipper- looking than fin-looking.

An average adult dugong can reach lengths of around 3 meters and weigh nearly 400 kg, which is about the same as a large cow, as it is also known as ‘sea cow’.

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