Dugongs, sometimes known as Sea Cows, are similar to manatees and closely related to elephants. They are mammals, and vegetarian, grazing on underwater grasses in the day and at night. They can stay under water for as long as 6 minutes. Dugongs are found in the Western Indian Ocean with a relatively marginal occurrence on the east coast of Southern Africa.
The Bazaruto Archipelago and Mozambique coast is one of the most important African habitats for dugongs in the Western Indian Ocean. Their distribution is limited by specific habitat requirements, particularly sea grass meadows growing in shallow, sheltered lagoons protected by reefs and islands. Your best chance of sighting a dugong will be in these sea grass meadows of the archipelago.
Dugongs are one of the most endangered large mammals of the African continent and are among the most threatened mammalian species in the western Indian Ocean. The major causes of their decline are hunting and accidental entanglement in fishing nets, particularly gill nets. Extrapolation of a recent survey produced an estimated total population of just 104 animals remaining in the area surrounding the Bazaruto Archipelago.