Dugong, the mystical mermaid...

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Abu Dabbab, Egypt, 23/1-2012

N25°19.508´
E034°47.927´

Sailing distance made: 6840 nautical miles

They are believed to be the source of mermaid legends...

But today, this large marine mammal, is threatened with extinction. We are searching for the dugong...



Together with the manatees, the dugong (Dugong dugon) is one of four living species of the order Sirenia and are also called sea cows. In the Red sea the dugong is the only representative of the sea cows.

Already when we entered Red sea, our highest goal was to film the dugong. But how difficult would it be to find this mythical mermaid?





The diet of the sea cows consist mainly of sea-grass and they are normally found in shallow, protected areas.

From the locals we get some advice were to search for the dugong, and soon thereafter we are already in the bays searching...

Under water, the first thing we see is the friendly sea turtles...





We make many dives and the turtles are always there, welcoming us to the under water world. But where is the sea cow?



Finally!!! A dream becomes true when I sea a huge dark sheadow in the water. I can hardly believe it, but truly it is a dugong!!! :)



The dugong dives slowly down to the bottom, where it starts to eat from the seagrass...




What a lovely experience to be side by side with this amazing animal! The dugong behaves really calm and its does not seem to be worried about us or our cameras...




After a while, the dugong get new plans...

With a playful, as well as curious look, he starts playing in the sand... Now, it is playing time!









However, food is important and it does not take a long time before my new dive buddy is back eating at the sea bottom again...



The numbers of the dugong have decreased in recent times and many populations are close to extinction.

Today, this species is legally protected in most of the countries. Despite this, the main causes of population decline remain man-made and include hunting, habitat degradation, vessel strikes and fishing-related fatalities.





With a lifespan of 70 years or more, and a slow rate of reproduction, the dugong is especially vulnerable to extinction.

Today, the dugong is the only living representative of the once-diverse family Dugongidae. The closest modern relative, Steller's sea cow, was hunted to extinction in the 18th century...




It is really sad to think of how vulnerable this species is, but I truly hope that the dugong will have a chance to survive in our profit thinking world...



It is amazing how fast time pass by when you are enjoying it! I spend many hours in the water and during the time I feel so happy when I am swiming side by side with a real mermaid... ;)




We make many lovely dives together with the dugong... and I can promise that it is really hard to get me out of the water when this friendly animal is in the surrounding!!! :)













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