Ever seen a dugong eating? These plump marine creatures gobble up sea grass like they are the first ones to arrive at a buffet and nobody’s watching.

Diver Anna Sherstoboeva was exploring the waters in Egypt’s Abu Dabbab Bay recently when she was lucky enough to come across a dugong voraciously hoovering up sea grass on the ocean floor.

Sometimes called sea cows for their docile nature and grazing habits, dugongs are related to manatees and share a similar hefty build, aside from their more mermaid-like tails. While manatees are found cruising in freshwater rivers or brackish estuaries, dugongs stick to salt water and are found in shallow areas of the Indian and western Pacific Oceans.

The dugong’s cylindrical body can measure up to three metres (10 feet) in length and adults can tip the scales at over 360 kilograms (800 pounds).

The dugongs’ decreasing numbers make them tricky to find in the wild and Sherstoboeva was lucky to find one of the docile creatures. Habitat loss and sea grass degradation as a result of industrial activities or coastal development are taking their toll on the world’s dugong populations. Without sufficient sea grass to scoff down, dugongs do not breed as they should and numbers dwindle. Conserving habitat is vital for the survival of the species.

Header image: Julien Willem