Dugong by Bernd Neeser
The dugong has long held a strong place in the imaginations of people, with cultural and spiritual significance in Japan, Australia and West Africa. From the order Sirenia (sea cows), dugongs and other similar creatures have inspired the mermaid mythology, and are thought to represent the healer, the seductress and fertility. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, animals can be totems that are spiritual emblems linking people to creation time, all living creatures and the land.
Animals have reflected emotion and inspired creative expression in peoples around the world for millennia. It seems fitting to express our care and concern for those very same creatures through art, and for us that comes in the form of blankets.
Dugongs are plump and have a flute-like tail similar to a dolphin. Around three metres long and with a weight of about 400kg they come to the surface of the water to breathe through nostrils at the top of their snouts.
Dugongs live in tropical and subtropical shallow coastal waters near the Queensland/New South Wales border, Shark Bay in Western Australia as well as other parts of the Indian and Pacific oceans. Because they’re long ranging creatures, population numbers are shared across national borders.
Dugongs feed on seagrass, sucking it up like a vacuum. Although they’re quite solitary creatures, they communicate with others by ‘singing’ in chirps, whistles and barks that echo through the water. The babies are already about 1.2m long and weigh 30kgs when born, and suck their flippers if they need to be nursed!
Dugongs are threatened due to loss of habitat from coastal development and industrial activities, as well decline in water quality, and getting caught in fishnets and struck by boats. Recent flooding in Southeast Queensland affected dugongs as their seagrass meadows were smothered with sediment.
The dugong’s status is ‘vulnerable’ according to the Wildnet Species List by the Queensland Government and listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), of which Australia is a signatory.
In Australia, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation helps to protect dugongs and their habitats and the Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project covers South Asia and Africa and the Pacific Islands by introducing sustainable fishing practices among other actions.
The Dugong Lime blanket
In our Dugong blanket design, we were inspired by the rounded silhouette of the solo dugong and their fluted tail, and the sunny waters dugongs call home. This dugong plays freely under a tropical sun.
Maya and the Dugong Mango blanket