By Khanitta Sitong
The six-month-old, 30kg Mariam, has became an internet sensation after being rescued in Krabi on April 29 and placed under care in a dugong conservation area at Koh Libong. She became the new face of sea conservation and helped boost public awareness on the extinction risks of some 300 dugongs in Thai waters. She was the first baby dugong in Thailand raised by humans in a natural environment and her activities - especially a bird-eye view of a volunteer cuddling Mariam in the sea - went viral.
DMCR director-general Jatuporn Burutpat and TOT PCL executives travelled to Duyong Bay on Koh Libong on Thursday to observe the care. There are problems in caring for Mariam during the monsoon season, as officials were to take care of her for at least another 12 months before she can stop milk-feeding and head out to sea by herself. Jatuporn also presented protective clothes to the staff to prevent harm from box jellyfish and stingrays which had reportedly wounded many people.
"Mariam is so adorable. She becomes the nation's sweetheart and helps raise the public awareness to conservation and to the plight of dugongs among the wider audience. Many people know Mariam as the ambassador of Koh Libong. As to create co-learning over dugong care, the department will install CCTV at the Khao Batu Puteh dugong rehabilitation area so people can observe the care of Mariam," Jatuporn said.
TOT vice president Somsak Mahaviriyo inspected the area to test the signals and determine how many cameras to install.
The live feed would be broadcast from early July via the department's Facebook page, just like the previous case of baby leatherback sea turtles hatching at a Phang Nga beach, Jatuporn said.