Dugong situation in Thai waters

BANGKOK,19th August 2019 (NNT) – The loss of orphaned dugong Mariam is an important lesson for marine resources management in Thailand, especially on plastic waste reduction. The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment is set to hold a global dugong conference in Trang where a likenes of Mariam will be exhibited to raise awareness on dugong community conservation. Sad news of the loss of another dugong was also reported yesterday in Krabi, making it the 18th dugong death over the past nine months.

Staff from Hat Noppharat Thara – Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park inspected the body of a beached dugong found on Ao Ton Sai harbor in Ao Nang, Krabi. The beached dugong was found dead, with a bruise on the left fin. The dugong’s body, weighing 240 kilograms, has been sent to the Marine Biological Research Center in Phuket for autopsy.

According to a Facebook post by Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawat, the dugon’s body is this year’s 18th dugong death, which is already higher than the average 10 deaths per year. The fatality rate of dugongs at 18 deaths in only nine months is considered almost 10% of the total 200 dugong population, which is a concerning figure for Thailand’s marine resources.

Teams of veterinarians from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation, as well as volunteers, yesterday helped transport the body of the 9-month-old dugong Mariam for final cleaning, before placing the body into a plastic container, to be transported to Bangkok by a navy aircraft for taxidermy at the National Science Museum in Pathum Thani. Her lifelike mount will then be placed on display at Phuket Aquarium for the general public to learn more about rare marine animal conservation and the threat from plastic waste.

The Mariam project is to be launched to promote large scale conservation of the dugong community and other wildlife in Thailand, in keeping with the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Warawut Silpa-archa’s policy. A global meeting on dugongs is planned to take place in Trang province in 2020 as well.

Now, let’s update you on the latest condition of dugong Yamil, under the care of veterinarians at the Marine Biological Research Center in Phuket. The baby male dugong now weighs 30 kilograms, and is reported to be in good health. Veterinarians are providing milk and nutritional supplements, as well as training him to feed off sea grass by himself. He can now swim and dive well.

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