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Phuket’s sick dolphin now comatose, clinging to life

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PHUKET: The future appears grim for the sick bottlenose dolphin rescued by marine biologists off Phuket last week. Paralyzed and comatose, the cetacean is now being kept alive by life support measures provided by staff at the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC).

Fourteen staff at the PMBC Marine Endangered Species Unit are currently working around the clock to keep the dolphin from drowning in the holding tank where it has been treated since Saturday for an unknown infection.

Despite the best efforts of PMBC veterinarians, the animal’s condition continues to worsen.

Veterinarian Patcharaporn Kaewmong said the still unnamed creature slipped into a coma on the fourth day of treatment.

“Its muscles weakened to the point that it was unable to swim or even float enough to prevent itself from drowning – then paralysis set in. One staff member has to stay in the pool and support it at all times. At night we put a life jacket under it, allowing it to stay still at the water surface. We monitor its condition all day, all night,” she said.

The animal is fed liquid food mixed with medication to treat an infection, but the veterinary team has been unable to pinpoint the underlying cause.

“We know its white blood cell count is low, but blood tests have not revealed why,” Ms Patcharaporn said.

An antibacterial agent has also been applied to external scrape wounds along its body.

Ms Patcharaporn is also seeking help from the public to fix the drainage system in the holding tank.

“We have to drain out the water and refill the tank daily in a process that takes about an hour. During that time the dolphin suffers severe stress that delays its recovery. We need better equipment to carry out the drainage more quickly. If anyone can help, please contact us at the PMBC as soon as possible, ” she said.

“We will try our best to keep it alive, for we hold its life to be just as precious as that of a human being,” she added.

Anyone who can help can contact the PMBC at 076-391128 or 076-391438.

— Pimwara Choksakulpan

 

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