• Short Summary

    The dugong is a rare marine mammal of the natural order Sirenia (which also includes the manatee of the West Indies and a number of extinct species) which is today only occasionally to be found in widespread localities including Australia, the Red Sea and eastern Africa.

  • Description

    The dugong is a rare marine mammal of the natural order Sirenia (which also includes the manatee of the West Indies and a number of extinct species) which is today only occasionally to be found in widespread localities including Australia, the Red Sea and eastern Africa. It was formerly common in many localities, including the Rykyu Islands of Japan, but has become very rare owing to indiscriminate killing. It is a shy, herbivorous creature; and is said to have given rise to the legend of the mermaid, owing to its habit of sunning itself on exposed rocks and sandy shores. Even a sex-starved sailor would have to be very short-sighted to mistake this rather ugly creature for the beautiful siren of ancient legend; but perhaps at a great distance it resembled the magical creature first described by Homer in the Odyssey and blamed for the deaths of seafaring men who were charmed by its entrancing singing so that they wrecked their ships on the rocks which it inhabited. In Okinawa, no dugong has been sighted since the end of World War Two, and it was considered to be extinct in this part of its former range. However, on 18th January this year, a strange creature was by fishermen of Nago City in Okinawa, and identified by Professor Takara of Ryukyu University (and a member of Okinawa's Cultural Properties Commission of Protection) as a dugong. The creature was a female, measuring 1.60 metres in length and 1.20 metres around. Brownish in colour, the dugong weighed nearly 100 kg. Professor Takara said that he was most surprised that the dugong had been caught, as it had been assumed that the species was extinct in Japan. The dugong was kept for a few days in a pool at the Okinawa Marine Park; and then by order of Japan's Cultural Bureau was released into the ocean on January 22nd.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVADOGZE0021O8P0NVZUPWY2TRTJ
    Media URN:
    VLVADOGZE0021O8P0NVZUPWY2TRTJ
    Group:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    18/01/1978
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Colour
    Duration:
    00:02:12:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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