The aquarium in Singapore has one of those cool walk-through tanks where you can get friendly with sharks.

But the best part was Gracie, the dugong. Dugongs are big underwater mammals like manatees. Supposedly they’re the inspiration for the mermaid myth, but they don’t look like a cross between a beautiful woman and a fish to me — they look more like the front end of a pig welded to the back end of a whale. Here’s a picture I swiped from the Australian Humane Society.

We kept getting on and off the moving sidewalk so we could ride by the dugong again. There was something captivating about her face, with its squashed nose, and the way her big bulbous body moved so gracefully through the water. Finally one of the keepers put a mat of seagrass in the tank. The dugong raced over and, before devouring it, did this funny cat-like thing of rubbing her face in it ecstatically. You could see the cartoon bubble over her head: Food! I love you, food!

Dugongs are endangered, of course. Sigh. We’re going snorkeling this weekend, and it would be really cool to see one.


Author: Trish Anderton

I am a nonprofit communicator, Red Sox fan and amateur streetfoodologist. Once upon a time I worked for the Jakarta Globe & Jakarta Post.

4 thoughts on “Gracie”

  1. They do look like Manatees. Maybe they are like black labs too – my dog always has that, “food, I love you food” attitude.When I lived in the keys, we used to see Manatees every now and then. Most of us lived on canals and manatees would swim up to the house for a visit. They loved fresh water, so, we would always put a water hose in the water for them to drink. They would drink for a long time. Then, we would feed them lettuce. They loved that too. They are also endangered in South Florida – partly because power boats run into them. Unlike the dolphin, they are not fast enough to scoot out of the way! Many had scars on their backs from the propellers. It is nice to see a picture of their long distant cousin! I hope you get to see one in the wild.

  2. Man would I love to see a manatee drinking from a hose. We didn’t see any dugongs on our trip but I am still hopeful for the future.I love this picture of Chad too. It’s very Chad-like, isn’t it?

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