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What to do when you find a dugong!


Dugong (Dugong dugon)

Dugong (Dugong dugon)

The dugong is a large marine mammal, sometimes called a “sea cow”  because of its’ diet of sea grass. It lives in parts of the Red Sea, Persian Gulf and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is similar to the Manatee, the main difference being that the latter can also be found in the estuaries of fresh water rivers. Also: the tail of the manatee is round, the dugong has a ‘fish tail’.

To find dugongs in a large bay with sand and grass, it is important to know which grass species they eat. There are always several types of grass in the bay that are not eaten by the dugong. It can save a lot of time looking for it. Another benefit: you can observe the dugong while feeding.

Again, it is very important to have a good buoyance control, as you have to work in an area of sand with grass. When you behave properly, the dugong is not so difficult to approach.

Every five to six minutes the dugong has to go to the surface to breathe, keep this in mind, let him go up, he will return to the bottom again. First and foremost, see if it just continues to eat the grass and then go to work.

My goal was to take a picture with the golden trevally  not in front of the dugong, those are the photos you usually see. I just liked the trevally as an accent.

Because I had the fisheye, I had to get close and the trevally hid  under the dugong. I just waited long before I started to take pictures, en tried to move as little as possible to get the trevally in the picture the way I wanted it – so I could make the picture I wanted. After I was finished that, I gave them both the space to continue eating. And buddy Georgina and I enjoyed these beautiful animals from a distance.


Photo data:

  • 1/125 sec
  • F/18
  • ISO 200
  • Camera: Nikon D700
  • Lens: Nikon 16mm fisheye
  • Sealux underwaterhousing

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All images © Peter Verhoog 2000-2018

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