Journal of the Marine Biological Association of India

Volume 1 Issue 2

On a pair of captive dugongs Dugong dugong (Erxleben)

Jones S.

The dugong or sea-cow, presumably responsible for the legendary stories of mermaid of sailors, is an inhabitant of certain restricted areas in the Indo-Pacific region from the Red Sea and East coast of Africa in the west to the Solomon, Marshall and New Caledonia groups of Islands in the east. In India it occurs in the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar and probably in very stray numbers in the Gulf of Cutch and Adamans and from the first two places it is occasionally caught in fishing nets either accidentally or deliberately by fishermen while it comes for feeding in certain shallow areas where sea-grass of the genus Cymodocea grows in abundance. The animal is known as ' Avolia' and ' Kadalpanni' (sea pig) and a casual fishery of this exists in this region and this is being described elsewhere. The flesh which is said to be similar to pork is very much relished by the coastal people especially by Muslim fishermen to whom the latter is taboo. In view of the great demand for the meat, the animal is usually cut up and shared or sold as soon as one is caught and therefore instructions were given to the fishermen in the neighbourhood to give information as soon as any live dugong is caught in the area. The observations made on two live dugongs are given in this note as there is little published information on the habits and behaviour of this interesting animal. 


Dugongs,captive condition, Gulf of Mannar

Date : 08-12-1959