What is a dugong? Check out these beautiful drawings of this hard-to-spot ocean creature

Illustrators have been drawing dugongs for Greenpeace as part of a global effort to protect their ocean home.


The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise has been at the Saya de Malha Bank in the Indian Ocean to map and research the wildlife of the region with an international team of scientists. The Saya be Malha Bank is the world’s largest seagrass meadow.

With the help of binoculars and hydrophones, they’ve been looking for whales, sharks, seabirds and turtles – with a very slim prospect of also seeing a dugong.

Seagrass meadows

Seagrass meadows cover less than 0.2% of the world's seabed, but take up approximately 10% of the carbon buried in ocean sediment each year. On one hectare, seagrasses can store up to twice as much carbon as forests on land. 

Have you heard of dugongs? They’re large marine mammals that are strictly vegetarian. They are one of only two vegetarian sea mammals (the other are manatees). Whilst manatees rely on freshwater, dugongs stick to the sea. Manatees have paddle shaped tails, but dugongs have streamlined tail fins like dolphins – making them better sea swimmers.

Because of their slow speed, and how slowly they reproduce, dugongs are more vulnerable to changes in their environment.

We asked illustrators to draw dugongs, to help show the world the precious sea life Greenpeace is campaigning to protect.

Tom Cole

Two dugongs viewed from above, one adult one baby in the centre of a wide open bright blue background which fades to green at the top. There are streaks of sunlight on the dugongs and stripes of lighter background emanating from the bottom right corner of the image.

Find Tom Cole on Instagram.

Natelle Quek

Rich turquoise background qith an even brighter outline of two dugongs, drawn around with crayons strokes. One is facing left, seen from the side; the second is below and facing belly up, their snouts, flippers and tails are little and round. There are five very small pink fish dotted aorund.

Find Natelle Quek on Instagram and at natellequek.com.

Molly Lemon

Textured drawing with many colours, including the sky in blue and yellow at the top with a big yellow sun, the waves of the sea in increasingly dark blue, then the sand with colourful shells patterned on it. The dark blue dugong floats over dark blue kelp fronds and the shadows of a few fish.

Find Molly Lemon on Instagram.

Marcus Walters

grey dugong on a dark blue painted background with large black letters reading Save Our Seas

Find Marcus Walters on Instagram.

Kristjana Williams

Two googly-eyed dugongs in greyish blue with black shadows, on an intricate background on sea ferns, and flowers, with bright red coral and a fossil-spiral shape in orange in each corner.

Find Kristjana Williams on Instagram.

Anna Süßbauer

Very colourful painted dugong on a blue background. The red, orange and yellow paint is in broad strokes, with the dugong's cat or dog shaped muzzle drawn in detail with pen, including eyes, nostrils and little whisker-dots.

Find Anna Süßbauer on Instagram.

Katherine Quinn

Two large grey dugongs, whale shaped with pronounced foreheads and noses and large flippers, on a pale green background. One dugong's flipper is being held by a small boy in a wetsuit, about a quarter of the size of the dugong. There are sunhbeams pouring in to the picture from the top left and three springs of seakelp in white underneath.

Find Katherine Quinn on Instagram.

Karla Hawkins

A big grey dugong on navy blue background, with bubbles coing from its protruding nose. The background includes lighter blue and yellow sea kelp and other grasses, a starfish, and three tropical yellow striped fish.

Find Karla Hawkins on Instagram.

Karen Obuhanych

Two brown dugongs little and big clearly both smiling (the little one face on), with a background of seagrass and coral in green and orange on a pale blue fish patterned background.

Find Karen Obuhanych on Instagram.

Friederike Ablang

A grwy dugong with a small smile on a round black disc on a beige paper-textured background. The words "Draw a Dugong for Greenpeace" are written underneath the dugong with a pattern of heart-shaped bubbles rising from it.

Find Friederike Ablang on Instagram.

Emma Jayne

Two dugongs, adult and baby, in bright and pastel pink respectively, on a pale blue background with many colourful sea creatures on the ocean floor below them, and tropical fish in yellow and black stripe and blue and red stripe around them.

Find Emma Jayne on Instagram.

Chloe Hall

Painted dugongs arranged in an all over pattern in varying shades of turquoise-grey

Find Chloe Hall on Instagram.

Join the global art contest with your own oceans-inspired artwork

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise has been sailing through the Indian Ocean, to document the threats our oceans face, and put pressure on governments to protect them.

We need your help on this mission, to flood the internet with artworks of the beautiful and majestic creatures we want to save – from whales, to dugongs, sharks, dolphins and sea turtles.

Whether you’re a confident artist or just love to doodle, join our Draw The Oceans Challenge and post your art on Instagram using the hashtag #DrawTheOceans.

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