Dugong not out of the woods yet

PHUKET TOWN: The health of the young female dugong rescued by staff of the Phuket Marine Biology Center (PMBC) on March 5 has improved, but the animal is still far from a complete recovery. The young animal, little more than an infant, was found stranded at the edge of Klong Pa Khlock, exhausted, bruised all over and with a large wound on her lip. Biologist Kanjana Adulyanukosol told the Gazette yesterday, “We have been treating the wound on her lip with anti-bacterial cream and it’s healing. “We are feeding her using milk powder usually given to puppies. The milk costs 2,000 baht a day, while the medicine costs around 3,000 baht. She’s been playful and seems cheerful, and she has even started swimming more.” But the dugong is still far from healthy, K. Kanjana said, estimating the animal’s chances of survival at 70% to 80%. The center’s record on saving sick whales, dolphins and dugongs is not encouraging, she noted. “Most of the animals that are brought to the center die,” she admitted. Many are probably beyond saving; a rare Risso dolphin, found beached at Karon last October, died three days after being brought to the PMBC. An autopsy showed its lungs were almost completely destroyed by disease. But better facilities could play a significant role in improving sick animals’ chances of survival. “We should have a big fiberglass pool to use for recovering animals. The center has no clean water, no filtration system, no place to stock water, and no qualified dugong expert. “We have only one pool and it has many turtles in it, which makes it difficult for us to keep [a sick animal] clean so that it can build up its immunity to disease.” Staff at the center have estimated that building a recovery tank would cost around 2 million baht.

Phuket News
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