Did this science org throw shade at Duterte in its trivia on ‘dugong’?

June 16, 2020 - 9:14 PM
(Photo by Maegan Luckiesh via Unsplash)

A science organization recently shared a trivia about sea cows, also known as “dugong,” on Facebook which some Filipinos perceived to be a “shade” at President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a post last June 13, Earth Shaker posted that sea cows are marine mammals that don’t have excellent vision. The post also included a photo of a sea cow found in China. 

Dugongs (/Dugong dugon/), also known as “sea cows”, are herbivorous marine mammals that heavily rely on their hearing capacities to travel, find food, and mate, since they don’t have an excellent vision. They often create sounds, such as barking, to communicate with other dugongs,” the description said.  

“Did you know? There are also dugongs in the Philippines!” it added.   

#DTF Dugongs don’t have an excellent visionDugongs (/Dugong dugon/), also known as "sea cows", are herbivorous marine…

Posted by Earth Shaker on Friday, June 12, 2020


The post had since earned more than 22,000 reactions and 15,000 shares on the platform. 

Scientific shade?

Some online users perceived the post as a subtle criticism to Duterte, who is referred to as “Tatay Digong” by his supporters.  

Comments section of the Earth Shaker post’s June 13, 2020 post. (Screenshot by Interaksyon)

“You threw shade as well as educated people about d.. dugongs. Well played! 👍” Facebook user Mark Nolledo commented

Some of them poked fun at the perceived similarity between the sea creature and Duterte under the comments section of the post.  

Comments section of the Earth Shaker’s Facebook post. (Screenshot by Interaksyon)


They also perceived the caption: Photo of Dugong in China as another “shade.” Duterte is known for being pro-China.

“I see what you did there 😌😆 tas may ‘photo of a dugong in CHINA,'” Facebook user Brandon Peña commented.

Earth Shaker clarified that the sea cow in the photo was indeed located in China, citing that the photo was taken from a Chinese tour website that featured Beihai Aquatic Museum in Guangxi Province. 

The organization also placed the link of the website where they lifted the information about sea cows and commented another related link for public’s further reading. 

“For further reading: ‘In general, the classification of dugong sounds according to Andreason et al (1995) is grouped into three types of sounds: chirp-squeaks, barks, and trills’
https://www.dugongconservation.org/…/Report_Bioecology..” Earth Shaker’s comment read.

One of the links posted leads to a science website called the Animal Diversity stated that sea cows or dugongs can be found in at least 48 countries including the Philippines. 

They are likened to dolphins in terms of the way they communicated. 

Much like dolphins, dugongs use chirps, whistles, barks and other sounds that echo underwater in order to communicate. Each sound has its own amplitude and frequency that characterizes the signal, which implies a possible purpose,” the website read