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Large marine mammal (Dugong dugon, the sole living member of the family Dugongidae) that lives in shallow coastal waters from the Red Sea and eastern Africa to the Philippines, New Guinea, and northern Australia. It is 7–11 ft (2.2–3.4 m) long and usually weighs 500–800 lbs (230–360 kg). Its round, tapered body ends in a flipper with paired, pointed, horizontal branches. The forelimbs are rounded flippers; there are no hind limbs. The head blends into the body, and the snout is broad, square, and bristled. Dugongs live in pairs or in groups of up to six individuals. Once heavily hunted for their meat, hides, and oil, they are now protected throughout most of their range, though some populations remain in danger of extermination. See alsomanatee, sea cow.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on dugong, visit Britannica.com.