World Dugong Day 2020: Marine mammal fighting for survival in Indian waters

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News: On World Dugong Day, experts have said that dugong could one day become extinct in Indian waters unless conserved.

Facts:

  • Dugongs commonly called sea cow is an herbivorous marine mammal found throughout the warm latitudes of the Indian and western Pacific Oceans.
  • They are largely dependent on seagrass communities for subsistence and are thus restricted to the coastal habitats which support seagrass meadows.
  • According to a 2013 Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) report, there were only about 200 dugongs in the Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat.
  • Significance: Dugongs are an important part of the marine ecosystem and their depletion will have effects all the way up the food chain.
  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable
  • Wild Life Protection Act,1972: Schedule I
  • Threats: Human activities such as the destruction and modification of habitat, pollution, rampant illegal fishing activities, vessel strikes, unsustainable hunting or poaching and unplanned tourism.