In celebration of World Oceans Day, a Taiwanese museum is holding an exhibition that showcases Taiwan's only two displays of dugongs, a rare torpedo-shaped marine mammal believed to have been the basis of mermaid legends.
The life-sized dugong displays, one of a male and the other of a female, will be shown until July 7 in the 'Taiwan has Mermaids!' exhibition at the National Taiwan Museum.
A 1937 film documenting the dissection of the female dugong will also premiere at the exhibition, according to the museum.
The female dugong was captured in 1937 in waters south of the Philippines' Luzon Island, while the male dugong was found dead along the coast of Liouciou Township in southern Taiwan's Pingtung County in 1986.
Dugongs, also known as sea cows, gave rise to the legend of mermaids because a female dugong exposes its upper body above water to breastfeed its infant, resembling a human mother breastfeeding her baby.
The mammals, which can weigh hundreds of kilograms and live over 70 years old, are often found in tropical and subtropical coastal waters with seagrass. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists them as vulnerable to extinction.
The largest population of 85,000 dugongs is found in Australia, followed by an estimated 7,000 in the Persian Gulf. However, there has never been more than a dozen sightings in Taiwan.