Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

Beloved dugong dies in Thailand with plastic in stomach

Mariam the 8-month-old dugong died in a nursery tank on Koh Libong in Trang province on Saturday Beloved Thai baby dugong dies with plastic in stomach
Patty Aguilar | 18 August, 2019, 15:28

Soon, she captured hearts around the world as videos of her nuzzling up against caretakers circulated the internet.

An orphaned baby dugong rescued in Thailand earlier this year died on Saturday due to pieces of plastic clogging her digestive system, authorities said. The infection spread, causing shock, officials said in the announcement.

Marium had been found bruised after apparently being chased and attacked by a male dugong during mating season, Jatuporn Buruspat, director-general of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, said.

The baby dugong's story impressed Thai netizens as it was dubbed "Thailand's sweetheart" by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. "If we want to conserve rare marine animals so they remain in existence with us, every sector, every person must help with marine trash".

"It's a pity for those who fed her milk and collected sea grass for their little daughter that we have to lose Mariam because of plastic waste", one commenter said. Last week, Marium was found bruised after being supposedly attacked by other creatures.

Marium, whose name means "lady of the sea", is the first dugong to have been nurtured by humans in Thailand. Last week she showed signs of stress and refused to feed, after encountering another dugong in the ocean. They hoped she would one day achieve a life of independence, the AP reported in June.

"Everyone is sad about this loss", Nantarika Chansue, director of Chulalongkorn University's aquatic animal medicine unit in Bangkok told The Guardian.

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In Thailand, Marium has become a symbol of ocean conservation.

In addition to eating plastic, biologists believe Marium was pursued by an overly-aggressive male during the mating season. Even seabirds are consuming plastic at an unprecedented rate.

Pieces of plastic that were found in the intestinal tract of Mariam.

Dugongs are marine mammals related to the manatee that graze on sea grass in warm, shallow waters from East Africa to Australia.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation implored people to learn a lesson from Marium's death and think twice about the accumulation of garbage in the world's oceans.

"She taught us how to love", she said.

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