A snippet from Dugongs: Fascinating Marine Animals at Risk showcasing a dugong underwater All stories

Celebrating the 'Sea Cows' of Qatar

1 June 2021

The ancestors of today’s dugongs are believed to have been native to the waters surrounding Qatar for millions of years. NMoQ’s exhibition Seagrass Tails, Dugong Trails provides a closer look at these fascinating creatures.

The seas and waterways around Qatar are beaming with life. Marine habitats include coral reefs, salt marshes, mangroves and over 150 species of fish. Dolphins, sharks and rays have also been regularly sighted. However, there is something bigger than all of those that also makes the waters around Qatar its home – the magnificent and mysterious dugong.

The dugong has lived in Qatari waters for over 7,500 years. The Arabian Gulf hosts the second largest population of dugongs in the world, and while they are often found in pairs of two – a mother and a calf – Qatar hosts a strange phenomenon. In the northwest region, herds of 600-700 Dugongs have regularly been found swimming together, while in 2020 a record-breaking herd of 850 was sighted.

Seagrass Tales, Dugong Trails at NMoQ

From 10 June until 1 September the National Museum of Qatar, in collaboration with ExxonMobil Research Qatar, is proud to bring Seagrass Tales, Dugong Trails to Doha.

The exhibition introduces dugongs and their habitat through fun facts and interactive exhibits. You can also learn about the vital work of scientists studying dugongs in Qatar and how we can all they can protect dugongs them and their environment.

There is so much to learn about these gentle, mysterious creatures – it promises to be a fascinating day out for adults and children of all ages. Entry to the museum is free for all residents and citizens of Qatar but tickets must be purchased online in advance of your visit. You can book your tickets here.

And if you're lucky, you might even get to see Murjana.

Who is Murjana? Introducing our new mascot

Murjana is the newest member of the Qatar Museums family and the official mascot of the museum. Earlier this year – to celebrate both the launch of the exhibition and NMoQ's first birthday – we launched a very special competition, asking people to send in their designs for a potential mascot.

The response was overwhelming, with dozens of incredible designs sent in – making the job of selecting a winner almost impossible. We are delighted to introduce you to the newest member of our family – Murjana the dugong!

The winning design was created by Choy Salonga, a resident of Qatar originally from the Philippines. And here it is.

A dugong in glasses picking up trash with its clutch connected to a recycling backpack

The winning entry – Murjana, by Choy Salonga

Choy's design was selected based on its creativity and unique concept.

After much deliberation, the judges chose Murjana. They felt that it both advocated the importance of an eco-friendly lifestyle and incorporated aesthetics relevant to NMoQ, such as adding the colour rose motif to represent the desert rose.

The number of overall entries was vast and varied, and competition organisers were hugely impressed with the array of entries they received.

As part of the museum's identity, Murjana will now be featured on NMoQ's website, educational programmes, publications and social media. The design will also be used in promotional activities outside the museum space.

Check out the slideshow below to see some of the other wonderful entries we received, and find out more about Seagrass Tales, Dugong Trails.

And to visit the exhibition, you can book your tickets today.

An illustration of multiple dugongs in different positions and outfits submitted by Sumaya Al Shebani

By Sumaya Alshebani

A dugong surrounded by aquatic plants, eating seaweed illustrated by Moataz Omar

By Moataz Omar

A dugong in traditional Qatari clothes illustrated by Paula Casil

By Paula Casil

An illustration of two dugongs with one waving at the other holding a creel submitted by Wadha Al Thani

By Wadha Althani

A dugong eating seaweed illustrated by Karola Szabo

By Karola Szabo

An illustration of a dugong family underwater by Gabriele Bickl

By Gabriele Bickl

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