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A dugong while diving

Wednesday was my first day of diving here at Marlin Lodge, and it was sensational. Within the first five minutes, I found myself staring at this weird-looking mammal:

dugongS.jpg

The fact there were a couple of sharks nearby was strictly a side-show. Dugongs are a threatened species, so rare that divemaster Paul had never seen one on a dive before despite 10 years of diving almost daily in these waters. There's a total of about 40 animals in this part of the Indian Ocean, and it's the icon of their Marine National Park. If I hadn't seen manatees in Florida before, I would have thought I was hallucinating. I found out about the dugong only after I saw it.

Dugongs (and manatees) are also known as sea cows, perhaps because they graze on underwater grasses, but (unlike the manatee's) the dugong's tail is fluked like a whale's. Sea cows are related to elephants, and reputed to be the origin of the myth of the mermaid. The photo above is courtesy of National Geographic. For once, I was glad I wasn't carrying a camera, as it left me free to enjoy the magic of the sighting.

It was the first of many dives I made on Two-mile Reef, although yesterday we went further afield to Cabo San Sebastian and dived to 29 metres in crystal-clear water. The journey there through the "washing machine" was a real white-knuckle ride, the motor-boat slamming hard through huge, confused seas. It was such a tranquil contrast then to drop below all that surface noise and share the cool, deep seascape with turtles, devil rays and potato bass. However, the bumpy journey was also rewarded with sightings of humpback whale and lots of dolphins, which was a considerably bonus on top of the diving. Above all, the diving was enhanced by divemaster Paul's relaxed, but highly professional style, which led to safe but enjoyable diving for everybody.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 18, 2008 3:09 PM.

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