Dugong, or Halicore, a mammal found in the waters bordering Australia and the Solomon and Marshall islands, Vietnam, and in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea. Like the manatee, found along the Atlantic coast, it is popularly called a sea cow.
The dugong has a grayish-brown body up to 10 feet (3 m) in length. It has a rounded head, a pair of flippers as forelimbs, and a horizontally flattened tail. The male has a pair of sharp tusks. The dugong breathes through its nose and must surface periodically for air. It feeds on sea grass. A single live young is born annually. The female nurses her young by clasping it with her flippers to a pair of mammary glands at her breast. The female is thought to have inspired the mermaid legend popular among early sailors. It told of mermaids that nursed their babies in a human fashion.
The dugong has become nearly extinct and now is protected by law in many areas. It has been hunted for its flesh, hide, tusks, and the oil processed from its blubber.
The dugong is Dugong dugon of the order Sirenia.