Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Thailand's 'sweetheart' dugong dies with plastic in stomach

Vets say plastic caused orphan mammal’s infection and should serve as warning about pollution

An orphaned dugong named Marium, who became an internet star after being rescued in Thailand in April, has died.

Veterinarians caring for the dugong off the island of Koh Libong, in south Thailand’s Trang province, said an infection caused by ingesting plastic contributed to her death. They added that the loss of the animal, named “the nation’s sweetheart” by Thailand’s department of marine and coastal resources (DMCR), should serve as a warning about the effects of plastic waste on wildlife.

Dugongs – marine mammals that grow up to three metres long – are vulnerable to extinction, with up to only 250 believed to be living in Thai waters. A team of around 10 vets plus 40 volunteers looked after Marium in shallow water off Koh Libong, after discovering her alone and malnourished in nearby Krabi province.

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