Off the coast of Africa is rapidly declining population of dugongs

Scientists are concerned about the rapid decline of populations of dugongs that live in the waters of Bazaruto archipelago, which is south-west African nation of Mozambique. Project manager to save dugongs under the auspices of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Karen Allen said that if we do not take serious measures to protect these unique marine mammals, in 40 years the population of dugongs can disappear off the coast of the African continent.

According to experts, today the population of dugongs in the entire feast declined over the last 60 years by 30%. In the national park, which includes the spreading Bazaruto archipelago, lives today only less than 200 individuals dugongs. It is this type of marine mammals of the order of sirens are the most vulnerable marine animals.

The main reason for the decline of populations dugongs in the world — the excessive pollution of the oceans, human impact of human activities, fishing and poaching fish (dugongs often get confused and die in fishing nets).

Traditional dugong habitats are warm coastal waters with seagrass beds and tropical mangrove swamps in the area from East Africa to the South Pacific. Now, in many areas of the region were only small populations, cut off from each other. Particularly alarming situation off the coast of East Africa. If earlier dugongs lived here for almost the entire coastline of the Red Sea to South Africa, but today there was only one viable population that lives off the coast of Mozambique.

Scientists note another fact affecting dugong population: these marine mammals reproduce very slowly, and if food supplies become scarce, they simply cease to procreate. And because of the extensive development in the last decades of shrimp and fish farms on the coast, destroyed the natural habitat of the dugong — underwater grasslands, which once served as an excellent sustenance for its rich vegetation in the form of algae.

"Dugongs deserve the same attention that is now being paid to other marine mammals," — said Robert Hepworth of the United Nations Environment Programme, under which runs the action plan for their conservation.

Today, only a population of dugongs off the coast of Australia and the Seychelles are more or less safe. The largest population of dugongs today lives in the Torres Strait and the Great Barrier Reef. In the Red Sea dugong population reduced because of tourism, and in the Persian Gulf have a negative impact on the development of populations of frequent oil spills.

Dugong — the only modern representative of the family unit dugongs sirens. In the Malay word "dugong" means "mermaid" or "Sea Maid." As often dugongs are called "sea cows" for their similarities and clumsy way of life. These mammals feed on algae and small invertebrates. Body weight dugongs can reach 600 pounds, while males are much larger than females. Caudal fin dugong divided into two broad blade. Small populations of dugongs live in a number of bays and coves of the Red Sea, the eastern coast of tropical Africa, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, near the islands of the Indo-Malay and Philippine archipelagos, northern Australia, the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia.

Currently dugongs are in the International Red Book. Prohibited fishing with nets, and mining is only allowed Aborigines.

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