Subject: Manatees and Dugongs

Nancy Sadusky (
Wed, 10 Jun 1998 01:45:39 +0000

Dear Hank and students,

Thank you for your e-mail message.   You asked:

My marine bio class on Long Island wants to know if a manatee and
dugong were ever kept in captivity together? Would they tolerate 
each other. Food (same or different)? And, lastly, any chance of 

The answer is:

As far as we know, no manatee and dugong have ever been kept in 
captivity together.  We don't even know of dugongs in captivity
in the U.S. or Europe.  However, if a manatee and dugong were 
kept in captivity together, it is likely they would tolerate each 
other just fine. Male dugongs are a bit territorial, but even at 
that they could probably share a tank with manatees.   In fact, even 
though they are not the same species, there is a possiblity that they 
could interbreed, which would not be a good idea.  Their 
offspring would be sterile or they would die before they reached 
sexual maturity. 

You also asked if the manatee was ever hunted for food?

The answer is:

Manatees were hunted for food in the U.S. until around 1950.  Until 
the Endangered Species Act in 1973, there were no real laws to 
protect them.  It is now illegal to hunt manatees in the US. but they 
are still hunted in all other parts of their range.  Most of the 
time it is opportunistic hunting, such as when the 
manatee accidentally wanders into a fisherman's net, and they 
use it for food.

Hope this answers your question.

Nancy Sadusky

         Nancy Sadusky 
     Communications Director
      Save the Manatee Club
       500 N. Maitland Ave.
       Maitland, FL  32751
      1-800-432-JOIN (5646)