20 X 24 in. Oil on canvas
The Dugong, or "Sea Cows, Sea Pigs, or Sea Camels" are the only living species left of its kind. The Steller's Sea Cow which was a relative of the Dugong was completely wiped out due to hunting 27 years after its discovery in the early 18th century. Years ago as sailors spent many months out at sea on ships had mistaken the dugong for the mythical mermaids. You must think how can this be? Well, after the men spending so much time at sea without being in contact with women, had no other way better way to get their mind off than to drink. You can imagine what illusions created by their own mind must have been as they looked apon the animals of the sea! Gorgeous (sexy) women with tails instead of legs? Hmmmm. Could be! The dugong is a cousin of the well known manatee and is found along the coasts of the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans usually in shallow water but occasionally in deeper water up to 75 feet. The are herbivorous, eating an abundance of vegetation. They feed primarily on the roots and leaves of many types of seagrass. The are bottom feeders and the males actually have two large tusks that erupt through the gums in males but rarely in females, and are not visible when the mouth is closed. They do have teeth or "molars" which are replaced throughout their life. They live along the coasts of Sri Lanka, also Okinawa, Ryukuyu Islands, and the coasts of China, Taiwan, Philippines, Palau, Papua New Guinea. Also some are around W. New Britain and the Manus Islands. There are over 12,000 dugongs around New Guinea and the northern half of Australia from Shark Bay to Moreton Bay, and even farther up to Sydney. Dugongs are usually found in small groups of 6-7 but sometimes in large groups of several hundred which the reason remains unknown. They are slow moving up to a speed of 6 mph and surface to breath every 1 or 2 minutes but can sometimes stay under for up to 8 minutes. They usually stick their nose (muzzle) out of the water and may roll like a dolphin when diving. They can travel 16 miles per day and hundreds per year. Dugongs are a threatened species for thousands of years by hunting. In the United Arab Emirates they have been hunted for 4,000 years. Hundreds of them killed in the 17th-19th centuries in Madagascar for meat. This hunting for their meat continues throughout much of their range to be sold in markets. They are however protected in Australia but still taken by Aboriginies. Hunting them for meat still continues in our day. Dugongs are also threatened by habitat loss, entanglement in fishing nets, fishing trawls and other fishing gear. They are very vulnerable to dynamite fishing and oil spills. Australia has the highest known population of dugongs-about 85,000. These are such gentle, harmless animals that deserve or attention and protection. This painting of them was very challenging for me. I did have a hard time painting them. I'm not 100% happy with the way it turned out, but still ok with it. I hope you like it. I was thinking of them where they love to be among the patches of seagrass that they feed on. The location in the shallow waters off the coast of Australia or maybe islands of Okinawa or Philippines. Thanks for looking! God Bless you all.