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NMoQ Dugong Exhibition Now Open to Young Visitors

by Tesneem Ayoub

The National Museum of Qatar’s (NMoQ) ongoing “Seagrass Tales, Dugong Trails” exhibition is now open to visitors under 12. This comes after the second phase of the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions came into effect earlier this week.

The exhibition introduces visitors to the dugong (known locally as baqarat al bahr), a mammalian sea creature that has been in the Arabian Peninsula for over 7,500 years. The dugong has deep, generations-long cultural and environmental ties to the Qatari people, and the exhibition highlights this, though that’s not its only objective. “We want to inform our public about the importance of protecting these mammals,” says Sheikha Amna bint Abdulaziz bin Jassim Al Thani, the director of NMoQ.

Dugongs are currently protected under the Qatar Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). But factors such as fishing, pollution, and coastal development have affected their habitats, leaving them in danger of becoming extinct. Because of this, the exhibition aims to teach visitors about the ways they can help protect dugongs and the roles different research and conservation professionals are playing to preserve their habitat. It also clues them in on the history of dugong research in Qatar. For this exhibition, ExxonMobil Research Qatar was one of the key institutions supporting its research, according to Sheikha Amna.

Visitors can also join in on different Covid-friendly activities, such as the chance to explore a simulated underwater habitat and a laboratory. They can also view the display of a baby dugong skeleton dating from 2012. The calf died after being separated from its mother, and a film on the events leading up to its death will play alongside the installation. According to Qatar Museums, one of the film’s aims is to highlight the importance of protecting marine life. Additionally, visitors can view a presentation of the different flora and fauna found in dugong habitats.

Seagrass Tales, Dugong Trails is available until 15 July 2021 and is presented as part of the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture. Visitors must book tickets before arrival on the Qatar Museums website and comply with all Covid guidelines.

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