In the resort town of Hurghada, tourists take boats out into the Red Sea to see with their own eyes the incredible dugong, a marine mammal that has practically disappeared from the planet, whose second name is “mermaid. Meanwhile, authorities have warned of a $500,000 fine and imprisonment for any violations against the local wildlife sight.
As reported by the Egyptian edition El Watan, the dugong does not leave the beaches of the Egyptian resort for several weeks, what unspeakably pleases tourists. Tourists are watching it in its natural habitat, taking pictures and even trying to stroke it. As it turns out, the Sea Mermaid is a rare marine mammal that remains an important attraction on Hurghada’s beaches and a source of national wealth, as well as bringing in a significant income to the local economy. The annual revenue generated by the tourism sector from the presence of “mermaids” in Egyptian waters is estimated at $1.2 million a year.
According to Dr. and marine biology expert Ahmed Shawki, the only marine mammals that feed on seaweed are dugongs. Their presence is associated with shallow coastal environments, especially in the southern Red Sea. The specialist warned that this species is threatened with extinction because of the slow reproduction rate: the gestation period reaches 13-14 months. At the same time, only one baby is born. They are unhurried creatures of the order of sirens, they move slowly, feeding on vegetation from the bottom. Currently, they are listed in the International Red Book, so it is strictly forbidden to catch them.
The dugong, better known as the “mermaid,” is a large marine mammal 2.5 to 3 meters long that feeds on seagrasses using its large lips. It weighs up to 600 kg. These animals, the native inhabitants of the Red Sea, are on the verge of extinction because of man. Since ancient times, dugongs have been hunted for meat, the taste and texture of which reminded them of tender veal. In Egypt, dugongs have long been known. Since the time of the pharaohs, there are drawings depicting the hunting of these animals. And in the Middle Ages dugongs were often depicted as mermaids. Life expectancy of a “mermaid” is up to 70 years.