Dugong

The dugong is a popular traditional food source for the people of Northern Australia, although they are no longer hunted as often due to the fact they are a threatened species. As well, the use of nets in certain areas by general fishermen is banned, and shark nets have been removed in popular coastal swimming areas to decrease the alarming mortality rates these have on the dugong population.

A common name for the dugong is ‘sea cow,’ probably because they are herbivores that feast on sea grasses. According to native law, women in some tribes are not permitted to see the female dugong until the men have removed her human-like breasts.

Dugongs are very gentle creatures and will sometimes gather into large herds, although this is apparently not as common today due to their smaller numbers. They have a similar lifespan to that of humans.

Dreamings about the Dugong have her as a young woman who has had enough of the ways of men who inevitably betray her, and so goes into the sea as a permanent home[1]. Embittered feminists (or men, if you are male) would fit this archetype well!

She was so ugly, (just look at her now!) no wonder she was betrayed! If this is how you would make sense of this Dugong Dreaming, remember to always seek the inner beauty beyond external appearances in your life!

People from the Northern Territory believe Dugong is sister to the moon. Leeches attack her so she goes into the sea[2].

In another Dreaming[3], she tries to break open a coconut shell, but in the process, splinters get into her eyes. She goes to the ocean to wash them out, however as it is low tide and she is blinded, she does not make it in time, becoming trapped by the incoming tide. As a result, she changes into a dugong, which is why the females have human-like breasts. People can still hear her lonely cries today. If this Dreaming strikes a chord, some event in your life has left you feeling stranded and alone, or besieged by nuisance after nuisance…..

‘Singing’ Dugongs could likely be the reality behind the myth of mermaids. Fantasy and the imagination may need a good workout with the appearance of these creatures. To imagine them as sensual lithe mermaids is a great exercise if you come face to face with a dugong! Seeing the reality in a personal myth could also be just as confronting.

Mother dugongs are said to breastfeed their young while floating on their backs on the surface of the sea. Although I haven’t been able to verify this, what a powerful and beautiful image! Even though they are generally considered ugly creatures! Dugong calls for you to tune into the beauty within, to go beyond external appearances.  Dugong may ask you to let go of some judgment and see things as they really are. Is there something, which seems ugly in your life? Go deeper, dive below the surface and you may witness another, more graceful world; one you would never guess existed until you push beyond ordinary limitations and literally go to the depths.

If Dugong has appeared for you, your attitudes towards female energy and nurturing others, regardless of your sex, may also be under focus. Dugong can call for a going back to your beginnings in some way and the healing of anything ‘ugly’ around the nurturing you received as an infant or child.

And like Whale, Dugong highlights the importance of preserving our environment – the ocean of infinite possibilities is indeed, finite – as is the future of these creatures, unless positive changes occur.

[1]               Reed, A.W. “Aboriginal Myths, Legends & Fables.”

[2]               Isaacs, J. (ed)  “Australian Dreaming.” Lansdowne Press, Sydney, Australia. 1980

[3]               Bozic, Sreten.  “Aboriginal Myths.”

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