There has been a fair interest at this blog in marine mammals, in particular whales. (If you are a new reader just do a search using the word ‘whale’ or ‘whaling’.)
But I actually think dugongs are more beautiful and probably more vulnerable as a species.
Dugongs are more closely related to elephants than to whales and dolphins.
Their closest living aquatic relatives are the manatees. Manatees live in rivers and also coastal waters of West Africa, the Caribbean, South America and the southern United States.
I was interested to read this morning that the also closely related Stellar’s Sea Cow was the first marine mammal recorded as becoming extinct, in recent times.
According to this website, the sea cow’s grew to 8 m long and weighed more than 6000 kg.
The last populations were found in the Bering Sea in 1741, but previous populations had occurred along the Pacific rim from Mexico to Japan.
Apparently the entire estimated population of 2000 became extinct by 1768 due to intensive hunting by seal hunters, taking them for their meat.
It got me thinking, which is the rarest species of marine mammal in the world today?