Support Us
Follow Us
Shutterstock

Dugongs vs. Manatees: What the Heck Is the Difference?

They have one super-cool thing in common.


Who doesn't love a good sea cow? (That's how you should start every first-date conversation, by the way.)

Manatees and dugongs are related and they're both nicknamed after the lumbering barnyard animals, but having a shared moniker doesn't mean that the animals are super similar.

Manatees and dugongs have a lot of differences, some of which you can see in the video below:


The main differences are physical. For example, manatees have large paddles for tails:

dugongs vs manatees

Giphy/Azula

Dugongs have flukes like dolphins and whales:

dugongs vs manatees

Giphy/Azula

According to the Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project, manatees are also much bigger than dugongs. Manatees weigh around 800 to 1,100 pounds compared to the dugongs' 500 to 800 pounds.

And, dugongs root around in the seafloor for their food, while manatees eat throughout the water column — so their noses and mouths are a little different too.

Manatees have shorter noses that also allow them to snatch floating food.

dugongs vs manatees

Giphy/ Azula

Dugongs have vacuum-like snouts that are longer and allow them to snuffle in the sea bed.

dugongs vs manatees

Giphy/Azula

The Ocean Conservancy reports that manatees also have better eyesight than their sea cow counterparts, but that dugongs live longer (closer to an average of 70 years versus 40 for a manatee).

Other than that, the other biggest difference comes from location. Dugongs live only in the ocean, whereas manatees can live in freshwater and marine areas.

So, the only way these relatives will ever meet is if manatees visit the dugongs over in the sea.

dugongs vs manatees

Giphy

But, for all the differences between these two marine mammals, they have one giant commonality — and it's a pretty wild one.

They're both related to the elephant.

dugongs vs manatees

Giphy

Yep, that's right. "Sea elephant" would have been a better name for these creatures.

But "sea cow" is still pretty cute and spirit animal AF, so we'll let it slide.

dugongs vs manatees

Giphy

Show Comments ()
GIPHY/"The Whale"

Please Don’t Pet Whales: These Alarming Gifs Explain Why

This plea for leaving whales the hell alone comes because of a whale-watching tour that did the opposite of that.

Keep Reading Show less

Sign Up For Our Newsletter Subscribe Shark


Sign Up For Our Newsletter Subscribe Shark