Diving with the Dugongs in Madagascar

This week, heading to Madagascar to dive with the Dugongs.

Arriving in Madagascar is, first and foremost, entering a universe of colors, tastes and perfumes (the famous vanilla of Madagascar) that are worth the effort to make the trip to this island off the coast of Africa.

It is also the meeting with a population and the discovery of animals: chameleons, makis, lemurs, butterflies … difficult not to fall in admiration before the multitude of species present in the country.

 

If the fauna and flora that can be seen in the warm and clear waters of Madagascar are magnificent (turtles, angels, grouper but also whale sharks, dolphins and pilot whales, …), it is the meeting with the Dugongs which can be here really surprising.

But what does the Dugong look like?

 

This large marine mammal is sociable and plays with the divers despite its impressive mass: up to 2,5m long and 500kg, what to surprise us during the first encounter during our marine explorations.

Dugongs live in the warm waters of East Africa, the Red Sea, seas of Asia (Thailand, Philippines, …), Australia (the largest concentration), Belize … The Malagasy waters. While one might imagine it as a cousin of cetaceans, Dugong, the only herbivorous marine mammal (+/- 40kg of algae and herbs per day), is actually related to elephants! You will find him mainly busy looking for food in herbaria.

If you have the chance to cross the road of this placid animal that can live until 70 years, take advantage of it. Indeed, Dugongs are listed among the most endangered species in the world as they have long been hunted for their fat and flesh. Today, if the pollution of the herbarium damages its survival and its reproduction, the only real predators of the Dugongs remain the tigers sharks … and the human beings 😢

You will find it in shallow waters increasing the chances for divers of all levels to be able to see it. It is even possible to see it during an intro dive, incredible, right?

Like his cousin manatee, the Dugong is part of the family of sireniens … at the origin of the myth of sirens, nothing but that!

How to differentiate manatee from Dugong?

Nothing could be simpler: the manatee lives in fresh water while the Dugong evolves in salt water. If you want to recognize it on a photo, do not panic, just look at … its tail: like a spoon for the manatee, Dugong’s tail is similar to that of fish.

So ready to go to meet him?

… What a great day

Helene

  1. Diving with the dugons suggest you have seen some – that would be really valuable conservation information – have you recorded your observations of dugongs? If so plase get in touch

    1. Dear Andrew,

      Thanks for your post.

      Unfortunately I have not seen them.

      I have also been to Abu Dabab but again nothing.

      I would like to go to crystal river in Florida but this is another story 😉

      Have a nice day

      Hélène

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