India’s first Dugong conservation reserve will be built in Tamil Nadu for the conservation of Dugong, a marine animal that has been enlisted vulnerable to extinction on a global scale by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
The reserve will spread over an area of 500 km in Palk Bay on the southeast coast of Tamil Nadu. Palk Bay is a semi-enclosed shallow water body with a water depth maximum of 13 meters.
Located between India and Sri Lanka along the Tamil Nadu coast, the dugong is a flagship species in the region.
Dugong or the sea cow is the State animal of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This endangered marine species survive on seagrass and other aquatic vegetation found in the area.
It is the only herbivorous mammal that is strictly marine and is the only extant species in the family Dugongidae.
Dugongs are usually about three-meter long and weigh about 400 kg. Dugongs have an expanded head and trunk-like upper lip. Elephants are considered to be their closest relatives. However, unlike dolphins and other cetaceans, sea cows have two nostrils and no dorsal fin.
Distributed in shallow tropical waters in the Indo-Pacific region, in India, they are found in the Gulf of Kutch, Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.