In the 19th Century, dugongs were known as ‘mermaids’. Sailors were said to have mistaken dugongs for half-human, half-fish creatures having glimpsed them swimming from a distance, causing the myth to begin.
Amorous seamen in search of watery lovelies will no doubt have been disappointed upon taking a closer look as, gentle as they may be, it’s difficult to see them as a potential bedfellow. The dugong, like its close cousin the manatee, is a relative of the elephant and has a fluked tail much like a whale. It is a herbivore and spends much of its time in warm coastal waters grazing for underwater grasses using its sensitive, bristled snout and rough lips.