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Plans for a stable in sea to protect baby dugong from storms

Jun 16. 2019
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By The Nation

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MARINE PARK officials, veterinarians from the Department of National Parks (DNP) and experts at Chulalongkorn University are looking for ways to protect the recently rescued dugong Mariam from strong waves in the upcoming storm season.

The six-month-old dugong was found early this month on Ao Tung beach in the “no-hunting” area of Trang’s Koh Libong.

The island’s marine park officials and other concerned people are thinking about building a temporary stable-like structure in the sea for Mariam, so she can learn how to survive in her natural habitat. 

However, veterinarians – who feed and check on her daily – say she is very weak and may not be able to survive the storms without protection. 

Dr Pattarapol Manee-on, chief of DNP’s Animal Welfare unit, told The Nation that the team has considered three options for Mariam – putting her in a floating cage, constructing a stable or moving her to a nursery. However, he said, the second option should be the best, as Mariam has already found her own spot to hide and sleep in a rocky area that is frequented by other dugongs. 

Pattarapol said the stable will be based in the site that Mariam has already chosen and will be at least 30 by 50 metres in size so she has a safe space to swim. 

In the mean time, the team had floated bouys to block boats to ensure the safety zone for Mariam.He said the veterinarians are also trying to strengthen Mariam before the storms arrive, adding that they are keeping a close eye on her as she is still relatively thin. 

Pattarapol said the team would assess the situation again before making a final decision. 

Dugongs are included in the “preserved species” list under the Wildlife Protection and Preservation Act. 

There are only some 200 of these animals left in Thailand, with 180 in Koh Libong and the rest in Chao Mai National Park, which is also in Trang. 

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