The Seacow of the Indo-Pacific
is a charming and harmless marine mammal
. Its way of life is interesting and still quite unknown.
Seacows evolved from an amphibious pig-sized tapir-like four legged animal which lived approximately 50 million years ago, presumably the way hippos do today. During the coming thirty million years the Sirenians had their peak during which they developed their present skeletal shape and abounded in many species in the warmer waters of the tertiary world.
Remarkable indeed are the huge populations of about 10,000 in Shark Bay/Australia and approximately 6,000 in the waters of the Arab Emirates.
Today a few thousand endangered Dugong live along the eastern and western coast of the warmer Atlantic Ocean.
And approximately 100,000 dugongs live in the Indian and western Pacific Ocean, most of them around Morthern Australia and in the Persian Gulf. Remarkable indeed are the huge populations of about 10,000 in Shark Bay/Australia and approximately 6,000 in the waters of the Arab Emirates. These accumulations should guarantee the survival of the species. In other areas, where they presently still exist in small numbers, they will probably disappear.
Seacows are primeval, very specialized plant eaters, and as such probably
Dugongs require water temperatures above 18deg C. Therefore they are found no further south than Shark Bay and Moreton Bay in Australia and the coast of Mozambique and not further north than Okinawa/Japan.
Although not very intelligent (by our standards). Still, the behavior of these shy animals has not been studied very thorougly. We know about the complex territorial behavior of the male Shark-Bay dugongs. Also observed have been long lasting periods of mourning after the loss of a mate or calf. The dugong language, consisting of chirp-squeaks, barks, and trills, still raises questions.
New findings may come from animals kept in captivity. Until now Toba/Japan and Singapore are the only zoos keeping Dugongs. It is difficult to establish, if these animals can be kept considerately in an aquarium.
Aerial Surveys and Satellite Telemetry are other modern methods to find out more...