What is a Dugong?
So, first up, for those of you that don’t know, we should explain exactly what a Dugong is. A Dugong IS NOT A MANATEE. Manatees and dugongs are the only two living mammal species that belong to the Sirenian animal order. Although these two mammals are in the same family, they live oceans apart. Manatees inhabit shallow waters near the Atlantic Ocean coastline, whereas dugongs reside in the shallows near the Pacific and Indian Ocean coastlines. These mammals prefer shallower water because neither have the capability of breathing underwater. Both manatees and dugongs can only hold their breath for two to four minutes while diving and thus rarely dive deeper than 10 feet. Dugongs live around 50 years as an average and oldest know Dugong lived 73 years.
Where can you scuba dive with Dugongs?
There are many places around the world you can scuba dive with Dugongs but we got to see them in Marsa Alam, Egypt, where sightings are very likely. The majority of Red Sea dugong sightings have been off the coast at Abu Dabbab, a sandy-bottomed lagoon about 30km from Marsa Alam. Dugongs like this location because of the relative abundance of sea grass. This time around we actually got to see a Dugong in Marsa Mubarak (pictured) after an hour of searching on 5m. What an amazing experience!
How many Dugongs can you see?
In the 1980s the Red Sea dugong population was estimated at about 4000, however, the estimated amount now in unknown (although definitely considerably smaller). Just seven known dugongs reside along the entire 100km coastline between Marsa Alam and El Quseir although actual numbers could be higher. On our trip to Marsa Mubarak we just saw one.
Watch the dugong video here
Where to stay in Marsa Alam: Utopia Beach Club
Who to dive with in Marsa Alam: Euro Divers Marsa Alam