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Dugong - Dugong dugon

Also known as Sea Cow, the Dugon, scientifically named Dugong dugon (Sirenia - Dugongidae), looks rather like a cross between a rotund dolphin and a walrus, reaching up to 3 meters in length. Its body, flippers and fluke resemble those of a dolphin without a dorsal fin. Its head looks somewhat like that of a walrus without the long tusks.

The species has a range spanning waters of 48 countries, from the tropical and subtropical shallow coastal habitats of East Africa to the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf, and eastwards to the Indo-Pacific region as far as Australia.

Dugongs are like marine vacuum cleaners, because they are seagrass-community specialists, with a diet predominantly of seagrasses, though occasionally they consume invertebrates and algae. 

The dugong is categorized as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List (Marsh, 2008), with some populations greatly diminished, threatened by human activities and in imminent danger of extirpation.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: [Top: ©Fergus Kennedy | Locality: Red Sea, 2008] | [Bottom: ©Mark Goodchild/Ruth Hartnup | Locality: Marsa Abu Dabbab, Egypt, 2004]

Who's who?

Al-Ahram English releases a slideshow of hunger striking prisoners in Egypt:

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The number of political detainees on hunger strike in Egyptian prisons is on the rise. Activist Alaa Abdel Fatah, currently serving 15 years for protesting without permit, has started a hunger strike alongside a number of other detainees in the same case. Alaa was allowed temporarily out of jail to bury his father, and following the funeral, his youngest sister and activist, also imprisoned for breaking a protest law, joined the hunger strike.

Meanwhile, other political detainees have joined in to protest the circumstances of their arrest and treatment. One of the cases, Diaa el-Mahdi from Tanta started his hunger strike for being picked up from a cafe, beaten and accused of belonging to a terrorist group. In addition to those arrested at protests, many detainees were randomly nabbed, with no evidence of involvement in criminal activity. Egyptian-American citizen Mohamed Soltan, who was arrested instead of his father on the 25th of August last year, has been on hunger strike for over 200 days now. Soltan’s health is failing and he has been in and out of hospital on numerous occasions. Soltan had started his strike with Abdallah el-Shamy, an Al Jazeera journalist who was released after going four months without food, and was held with no accusations. Now a Facebook page called “We Are Fed Up” has been set up to monitor and announce the joining of prisoners to the strike. With no other field left to protest in, going on hunger strike has become the only tool in the hands of detained Egyptian activists who find themselves behind bars, with no official accusations and no end in sight to their plight. 

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Palestinians play in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Gaza City, August 29, 2014, days after a ceasefire was reached. An open-ended ceasefire, mediated by Egypt, took effect on Tuesday evening. It called for an indefinite halt to hostilities, the immediate opening of Gaza’s blockaded crossings with Israel and Egypt, and a widening of the territory’s fishing zone in the Mediterranean. (Photos: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters)

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