February 23, 2010
You know Dugongs?
Have you ever wondered what a DUGONG is?
Maybe you have, briefly, if you've read about the building of the Tabernacle that the Israelites carried around in the desert as a predecessor to the Temple, before settling in the Promised Land. The hides of "sea cows" (another name for dugongs) were used as the outer covering of the structure. I guess they're pretty waterproof in case of rain! They were also used to wrap up and protect the tabernacle accessories during travel.
Sea cows are mentioned 13 times in the Bible: six times in Exodus chapters 25-39 and seven times in Numbers chapter 4.
And what are they? Well, they're a lot like manatees. They are real animals, still living, even if we from North American and Europe maybe have never seen one or really heard of them. They are marine mammals which nurse their young for two years, and invest in a lot of parental care, as the young do not reach maturity until 8-18 years old. They live to about 50-70 years old. They are to be found around Australia and Malaysia and neighbouring areas.
Honestly, I wasn't sure from the photo on wikipedia whether I was looking at the front or the rear of the creature. What do you think?
Some of the more interesting facts from wikipedia's dugong article:
Pretty cool that wikipedia notes another location of dugongs these days: "in the Red Sea in Egypt." Of course the Israelites got their hides in plundering the Egyptians on their way out during the exodus."Its range... spans the waters of at least 37 countries throughout the Indo-Pacific, though the majority of dugongs live in the northern waters of Australia""It is easily distinguished from the manatees by its fluked, dolphin-like tail""Dugongs are also threatened by storms, parasites, and their natural predators, sharks, killer whales, and crocodiles.""The word "dugong" derives from the Tagalog term dugong which was in turn adopted from the Malay duyung, both meaning "lady of the sea." Other common local names include "sea cow," "sea pig" and "sea camel."""Dugongs are referred to as "sea cows" because their diet consists mainly of sea-grass.""There is a 5,000-year old wall painting of a dugong [in] Malaysia. This was discovered by Lt.R.L Rawlings in 1959 while on a routine patrol.""Worldwide, only six dugongs are held in captivity." (one is called Gracie!)
There, now I can continue my reading as a better-informed amateur marine biologist, with a boosted grasp of the details of the account. Don't you love learning stuff?
February 23, 2010 | Permalink