Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bigger than a goby, smaller than a whale shark

Lately I've been researching the Great Barrier Reef, and I have decided that no matter what happens with the "Best Job in the World", I definitely need to visit the reef someday. The world's largest coral reef system, it was named one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World by CNN. And to quote Wikipedia, it is "the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms." The reef's date of origin is a bit vague, but we know this: it was a bloody long time ago (in the ballpark of 600,000 years). If that isn't enough to get you on a plane to Australia, consider this: more than 1,500 species of fish live on the reef, sharing their home with 17 species of sea snakes, 215 species of birds, 30 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, and 6 species of sea turtles. Not to mention the dugong (aka "lady of the sea" or the less flattering "sea cow").(

I began this post with the intention of giving you an overview of the Great Barrier Reef's attractions... but got so distracted by the dugong that I am devoting an entire post to this marine mammal. Here are the top 5 things I think everyone should know about a dugong:

5. It has a fusiform body. (note: Fusiform would be a sweet Scrabble word)
4. Its habitat encompasses the waters of at least 37 countries, though most live off of Australia.
3. It's the last survivor of the Dugongidae family. (Maybe I will change my last name to Dugongidae so it doesn't feel so lonely...)
2. Other nicknames for this creature include "sea camel" and "sea pig".
1. A 5,000-year-old wall painting of a dugong was found in a cave in Malaysia in 1959.


  1. Lately I've been sporting a fusiform body.

  2. Have you seen the BBC's Blue Planet documentaries? OH MAN they are so fantastic! You'd love them.