A Florida manatee is silhouetted against the sky

Dugongs and manatees

Dugongs and manatees, said to be the basis for the mermaid myths, are enormous aquatic mammals that can weigh over a tonne. Over time, their bodies have evolved to become streamlined and they have lost their hind limbs as part of this process. They have unusually dense bones that probably help them stay submerged.

Scientific name: Sirenia

Rank: Order


Map showing the distribution of the Dugongs and manatees taxa

The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

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  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Vertebrates
  4. Mammals
  5. Dugongs and manatees