These gentle “sea cows” share the Order Sirenia (mermaid) with manatees. They graze in the underwater meadows of tropical sea grasses but are not complete vegetarians. Every once in awhile, they munch on a slow moving jellyfish, polychete worm, or sea squirt.
I discovered that the shy curious Dugong is attracted to surfboards. There is a nice little right point break near… (nope, not telling, he he he), where Dugongs pop their big noses out of the water, investigating you and the surfboard’s dugong-like silhouette. Gentle, graceful marine mammals, it IS like meeting a mermaid.
They are traditionally eaten in this area but are now protected. Being endangered and charismatic aquatic mammals, they bring significant tourist dollars to Busuanga. 30+ Dugongs now swim in the waters around northern Palawan and this year there were 3 calves.