Qatar has the second largest population of dugongs in the world, but little is known of these secretive creatures that often avoid the ocean’s shallows. You can find them in Semesma, Umbab and Dokhan, where the legend says it got the name driven from dugong.
Dugongs feed on sea grass at the bottom of the sea. The creatures are slow moving, and a recent study in California found that they avoid their natural predators, sharks, by staying in deep water.
Loss in habitat and degradation of ecosystem resulted in reduction in availability of food for the dugongs. Dugongs are also natural prey for killer whales, crocodiles and sharks. The Supreme Council for Environment and Natural Reserves (SCENR) in Qatar, in 2008 had conducted a study in collaboration with Emiri Air Force on dugong’s habitat, as a prelude to taking steps to protect the species.
Those rare creatures are now considered endangered species, and serious efforts must take place for conservation.