Monday, July 18, 2011

What is a Dugong?...and...Manatee Love

A dugong is a mammal of the Indian Ocean. It's a type of sea cow that closely resembles what Americans know as the manatee. The dugong's cousin, the manatee, is different in physical characteristics and distribution.

Manatees and dugongs inhabit opposite sides of the planet. There are three species of manatees that are found along the coastlines and rivers of Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf, and South American areas.

Then there are West African manatees, which live along the central part of the west coast of Africa, and in that continent’s inland rivers. (The kind found in Florida and the Caribbean, in Mexico along the Gulf coast, and along the northern coast of South America are considered West Indian manatees.)

I love manatees and am eager for the day when I can share up-close moments with them in person. It would be a lifetime treat to get to see a dugong in the wild, as I don't have any plans to visit areas of the Indian Ocean where they live.

I know some of my readers are in Florida, so let me tell you...I am so envious how many opportunities you have to visit manatees. Last summer, though, a manatee was spotted in a marina here in Connecticut, and it also happened the previous fall, but it is quite an unusual occurrence this far north. Often those northward wanderers encounter problems getting back to Florida, and are monitored by the Save the Manatee Club in Maitland, Florida.

One day I will adopt a manatee (or two) through the club. Each animal has its own history and it's so hard to decide which one to adopt! It would be nice to visit some and adopt in person!

When the Gulf oil spill occurred, an Etsy shop opened up to raise funds for disaster relief, and I made a manatee necklace to donate. I am so glad that the recipient of my necklace enjoyed it because of her love for the manatee, and that our collective love for the manatee resulted in the proceeds of our effort going to help all plant and marine life in the affected area.

Here's are pictures of two versions of my manatee necklace.

Believe me, I'd make more necklaces like this to sell, because I know there are a lot of manatee lovers out there. But the manatee charm is solid, cast sterling silver, and it's cost prohibitive to keep an inventory of manatee charms (see my blog post about the price of silver here).