at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium
Meet Our Dugong
Did you know?
This big, gentle mammalian herbivore may not at first glance look much like the mermaids you might have read about in myths and legends. It's thought that the legend of dugongs belonging to the Sirenia (the Greek word for mermaid) originated from delirious sailors who mistook the animals for seductive fishy-tailed females after too long out on the ocean. The common name, dugong, comes from a Malay word meaning 'lady of the sea'. In fact, dugongs are most closely related not to any other sea creature, but to elephants.
Affectionately named after his eating habits, Pig was rescued from Forrest Beach in North Queensland when he became separated from his mother at a very early age. After a period of rehabilitation, Pig was released into the wild. However when he was found washed up again a decision was made not to release him again for fears he wouldn't survive.
We’re heartbroken to announce our beloved rescued dugong Wuru has sadly passed. Following round-the-clock care and support from marine mammal experts and veterinarians, she passed away surrounded by those who loved her dearly. Wuru, with her gentle nature, touched the hearts and minds of not only the team, but also the broader community so we wanted to share this news with you.
Both Pig & Wuru were orphaned in the wild in Queensland and were raised from calves to youngsters at Sea World on the Gold Coast. Calling SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium home since late 2008, like all dugongs, Pig and Wuru have needed a lot of looking after. Dugongs are social, friendly animals who not only need to be fed a lot but also enjoy playing games and having their backs scratched. Wuru sadly passed away recently following round-the-clock care and support from marine mammal experts and veterinarians – her gentle nature will be sadly missed.
Pig is a BIG eater and feeds almost constantly from 7:30am to 7:00pm every day. In the wild, dugongs eat massive amounts of seagrass, and the closest match to that at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is cos lettuce. Pig adores cos lettuce and eats about 80kg every day. The cos is washed and threaded into specially weighted racks, which sit on the bottom of the dugong display in Dugong Island, enabling Pig to graze as he would in the wild.
Dugong Fun Fact
Much like a tree, you can estimate a dugong's age using the number of rings they have on their tusks. Cool, huh? Are you keen to learn even more about the dugong species? Checkout our 6 fun facts about dugongs.