Most Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders are legally allowed to hunt dugongs in Australian waters. To them the dugong is often more than just an important food source; it is central to their culture, economy and even religion


  • Dugong

  • Ground oven


  • 1.

    When a dugong is brought back to the land for butchering, its head

  • 2.

    Must be faced back in the direction of the sea. This is so the

  • 3.

    Spirit of the dugong can return to the sea.

  • 4.

    The only internal organ of the dugong which is eaten is the small

  • 5.

    Intestines all other organs are removed.

  • 6.

    Dugong meat is cooked in a ground oven. 'The ground oven

  • 7.

    Is approximately 1 metre deep, 1 to 2 metres in width and 2

  • 8.

    Metres in length. The ground oven is filled with wood which is

  • 9.

    Set alight. While the‘wood is burning, the stones are thrown into the

  • 10.

    Fire to get hot.

  • 11.

    When the wood has burnt down to hot coals the heated stones are

  • 12.

    Removed . Green mangrove branches are laid on the bed of leaves

  • 13.

    And the hot stones placed on top of the meat., The oven is then

  • 14.

    Covered with dirt to seal in the heat. The meat is left to cook

  • 15.

    For approx 8 hours.

  • 16.

    After the meat has been eaten, all the scraps and bones are

  • 17.

    Thrown back into the ground oven and burnt. The belief is that

  • 18.

    Failure to dispose of the bones correctly will result in a

  • 19.

    Cessation of successful hunting. The rib-cage sections, head,

  • 20.

    And flippers of the dugong, are considered sacred. These are the sections

  • 21.

    Which are placed into the ground oven.

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