India’s First Dugong Conservation Reserve : Tamil Nadu:
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 & 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 & Nicobar Islands.