A sick baby dugong whose fight for recovery won hearts in Thailand and cast a spotlight on ocean conservation has died from an infection exacerbated by bits of plastic lining her stomach, officials said yesterday.
Mariam washed up in shallow waters off southwestern Thailand months ago and photos of her nuzzling playfully next to rescuers quickly went viral.
The discovery soon after of another orphaned dugong brought the sea cows celebrity status, the attention of a Thai princess -- who named the second one “Jamil” -- and round-the-clock webcasts giving viewers a front-row seat to feedings and treatment.
But Mariam died just after midnight after going into shock and efforts to resuscitate her failed, Chaiyapruk Werawong, head of Trang province marine park, told AFP.
“She died from a blood infection and pus in her stomach,” he said, adding they found small amounts of plastic waste in her intestinal tract. Several pieces of plastic were found in her intestine, with one measuring up to 20 centimetres (eight inches).
The plastic had caused obstructions in the animal’s stomach, leading to inflammation and gas build-up, veterinarian Nantarika Chansue posted on Facebook.
The dugongs are the latest marine creatures to make headlines in Thailand, whose plastic-choked waters are also a threat to habitats.