The orphaned female baby dugong, winning the hearts of many and helping to educate Thais about the importance of the local dugong population, has died with plastic waste lining its stomach, prompting a surge of mourning on social media.
Marium was found in April off the coast of Krabi, southern Thailand, and photos of her nuzzling marine biologists quickly went viral. When a second orphaned dugong was found, subsequently named Jamil by Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya, the pair became internet stars.
Dugongs, a species of sea cow, are listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List, facing environmental threats including pollution, habitat loss and hunting. In Thailand, Marium and Jamil soon became symbols for the conservation of the oceans. Fans could watch Marium on a live feed, receiving veterinary treatment, and being fed up to 15 times a day.
But last week the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources posted that Marium was sick and refusing food. Marium died just after midnight on Saturday morning. An autopsy revealed plastic debris in the intestine, resulting in inflammation and the accumulation of gas, as well as a respiratory infection and a buildup of pus.
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