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Dugong doing well



CAPE PANWA: A dugong found injured and stranded at the edge of Klong Pa Khlok on March 5 has an 80% chance of survival, according to experts at the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC) who have been treating her. PMBC biologist Kongkiat Kittiwattawong, told the Gazette that the young dugong will probably need to spend another 12 months at the center before she fully recovers. “We must be certain that she will be able to eat without assistance before we release her,” he said. “Her injuries, particularly a large gash on her mouth, are healing very well although she is still on antibiotic medication. Her weight has increased to 29 kilograms, which is a good sign.” K. Kongkiat speculated that the infant dugong had become separated from her mother before being dashed on rocks and then stranded. Dugongs are more closely related to elephants than to marine mammals such as whales and dolphins, and tend to live in shallow, tropical waters from East Africa to Australia where their preferred diet, seagrass, grows. They can grow to three meters in length and a weight of 400kg. Although they can live to around 70 years of age, many die prematurely, often as a result of human interference in their habitats. Early mariners believed dugongs to be mermaids due to their streamlined bodies and the large teats at the base of their flippers.


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