Did you know that mermaids (and mermen) really do exist? Okay, so we're actually talking about dugongs, rare marine animals similar to a Manatee or walrus. Ancient mariners may have thought of them as mermaids and believed that seeing a dugong brought good luck. Their scientific name "Sirenia" is the Latin word for "mermaid", and the shape of the dugong also means that they are sometimes referred to as 'seacows'.
Where do you need to go to see a dugong?
Dugongs are only found in a few places around the world so if you're heading to Mozambique make sure you spend some time in the Bazaruto Archipelago where there's a good chance of spotting one of these unexpectedly graceful creatures. One of the perks of my job as a Sales Consultant with Azura Retreats is experiencing the activities that guests of Azura Retreats can enjoy when they stay with us.
When I first spotted a dugong, I was on an Island Hop at Azura Benguerra Island. This is the hotel’s signature activity and consists of a day exploring the dunes, islands and reefs around the area. It includes a hike up Bazaruto Dune, a visit to Pansy Island to marvel at the thousands of sand dollar shells that collect here, world-class snorkelling at Two Mile Reef and a picnic lunch on North Point beach.
Parts of Benguerra Island lie within a marine sanctuary which is why the aquatic life and corals are abundant and healthy. This is where I spotted the dugong although I really wasn’t expecting to, considering how shy and rare these animals are. Given that a sighting is believed to bring good luck, I feel really blessed to have seen one from the boat.
How common is it for guests to see dugongs here?
There are between 150 and 250 dugongs in the area, so while it’s not uncommon, you should count yourself lucky if you do manage to see one.
In fact, no matter which of Azura Retreats three properties you visit, you’re likely to see something incredible as they are all located in unspoilt, remote areas where conservation of the local environment is a priority. At Azura Benguerra Island, it’s the dugong while Azura Quilalea Private Island is home to green and hawksbill turtles. In the vast Selous game reserve in Tanzania, the endangered African wild dogs are a feature of the camp at Azura Selous Game Reserve.
What is the best time of year to see a dugong?
Unlike whales, dugongs don’t migrate so it doesn’t matter what time of the year you visit Azura Benguerra Island – you’ll still be very fortunate to spot one.