21st dugong of 2019 dies in Thai waters, nearly double the average

Another dugong has died this year after getting caught in a fish trap. Photo: Thon Thamrongnawasawat / Facebook
Another dugong has died this year after getting caught in a fish trap. Photo: Thon Thamrongnawasawat / Facebook

Another dugong has died this year after becoming tangled in a fish trap, marking the 21st gentle sea cow to perish this year, by far the most to die since counting began, a dugong advocate said today.

Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine biologist and Kasetsart University lecturer, who posted about the animal’s death on his Facebook page, told Coconuts Bangkok that 2019 has seen nearly double the dugong deaths.

“We have records of dugong deaths and in previous years, we would see a maximum of about 12 dugong deaths a year, so there’s not even a comparison,” he said of the count conducted for the past 15-or-so years. 

He credited the spike in deaths to multiple factors including excessive plastic use and increased fishing, which has inadvertently impacted the dugong’s habitat.

“Dugongs breathe through their lungs, so when they get caught in a fish trap, they will drown and die,” he said, adding that about 90% of dugong deaths are caused by humans and their fishing gear. 

According to Thon, there are only about 250 dugongs left in Thailand. The full-grown adult found dead Wednesday was discovered shrouded in a plastic net in the Khura Buri district of southern Phang Nga province on Wednesday.

Jamil, the 2nd rescued orphan sea baby dies.  Photo: Savethailay / Twitter
Jamil, the second baby dugong to die in the care of marine caretakers this year. Photo: Savethailay / Twitter

August saw the tragic deaths of two baby sea cows rescued by marine biologists. The first died from an infection exacerbated by bits of plastic lining her stomach while the second had seagrass clogging his digestive system. 

Thailand devastated by death of 2nd orphan sea baby

While Thailand’s top environmentalists announced a project to promote large-scale conservation of dugongs and other wildlife – named The Mariam Project for the first orphaned dugong to die, Thon said it hasn’t been approved by the cabinet. 

He had no clue when the government would review the proposal and refused to disclose the funding requested for it until after it wins approval.

Baby Mariam’s death to be a wake-up call for environmental, wildlife conservation

In August, Thon laid out some of the things the project hopes to accomplish, including establishing a fund for wildlife conservation supported by the private sector and public alike. The project would have an international flavor as well, he explained.

A young dugong named Mariam cuddles with marine conservation photographer back in June. Photo: Sirachai Arunrugstichai / Facebook
A young dugong named Mariam cuddles with marine conservation photographer back in June, before its death. Photo: Sirachai Arunrugstichai / Facebook

“We are planning a global meeting to launch a global dugong meeting to join hands with other nations to address rare marine animal conservation and the sea pollution crisis,” he wrote in August, proposing Aug. 17 be declared “National Dugong Day” in tribute to Mariam.

Thon’s goal is to increase Thailand’s dugong population by half to 375 within 10 years. He added that the support and cooperation of the public in consuming less plastic would make a huge impact.

“The biggest thing everyone can do is actively try to use less plastic every day. That will help a lot,” he said.

Related stories:

Thais rally to save this bird trafficked to near-oblivion for its big, weird head

86 big cats rescued from ‘Tiger Temple’ now dead: officials

Thai fish now available with 78 types of plastic inside

Thailand devastated by death of 2nd orphan sea baby

Baby Mariam’s death to be a wake-up call for environmental, wildlife conservation

Beloved baby dugong ‘Mariam’ dies in Thailand with plastic in stomach

Orphaned baby dugong becomes face of Thai sea conservation (Video)

Planet Plastic: Thai citizens suffer from plastic addiction and poor waste management (VIDEO)

Last dugong in Gulf of Thailand found dead

 

We’ve removed the paywall on our coronavirus coverage to make it available to all. If you find it useful, please consider supporting by becoming a COCO+ Member or Patron.


By signing up for our newsletters you agree with our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

Leave a Reply

Coconuts TV
Our latest and greatest original videos
Subscribe on
MOST POPULAR

Send this to a friend