Sunday, September 22, 2019

Baby dugong Yameel dies from heart failure

Aug 23. 2019
File Photo by The Nation
File Photo by The Nation
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By The Nation

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Yameel, the last one of two recently rescued baby dugongs, has died following an endoscopic operation to try to remove undigested grass from its stomach, a team of veterinarians have announced.

Yameel died at 9:35pm Thursday due to heart failure, they said, despite their efforts to resuscitate him.

His death, 51 days into an effort to nurse him to strength after being found abandoned, was announced on the Facebook page of the Marine and Coastal Resources Department.

The department posted that despite the efforts, the vets found that Yameel continued to suffer from an accumulation of gas in his stomach and intestines, had a high cardio rate and sometimes endured convulsions. They administered pain killers and a tranquiliser before using a portable X-ray machine to check Yameel’s internal systems.

The vets found that undigested and dried seagrass had accumulated in the young dugong’s stomach, though liquid could still move through the stomach. They decided to perform an endoscopic operation to remove the indigested grass to reduce the gas build up.

During the day, over 6,000 people reacted to a morning post that reported Yameel’s symptoms and over 1,000 people made comments to wish the baby well.

At 5 pm, the vets and a medical team from the Vachira Phuket took Yameel by ambulance to hospital to receive an endoscopic operation. Working with the vets, doctors inserted an endoscope through the front part of Yameel’s body and used air to blow the accumulated, undigested grass.

But the doctors could eliminate only 20 per cent of the accumulated grass and had to stop for fear that Yameel could not withstand the operation. The baby dugong was then wrapped in a wet cloth and sent back to its nursery pond.

The vets believe the grass accumulated in the stomach because of the intestines had stopped functioning, something that baby animals are vulnerable to. The condition caused gas to accumulate in intestines and to break arteries, causing infection. The gas could also flow to the lungs, causing breathing difficulties.

After being taken to the nursery pond, Yameel became almost immobile while floating in the water. Vets had to take turns to hold it in the water. Then at 8.30pm, the baby dugong suffered heart failure, with the vets working to revive it before declaring death at 9.35pm.

Yameel was found stranded on the Bor Muang Beach in Krabi on July 1. The baby was then taken to be treated and nursed inside a nursery pond at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre.

On July 5, Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana named the baby dugong Yameel, meaning the handsome man of the sea, and took him under her royal patronage.

On August 19, the team of vets found the dugong suffering from stomach convulsions, and so administered antibiotics and drugs to aid digestion, and using a tube to reduce the stomach gas.

Yameel had become the darling of Thais monitoring efforts to nurse him, along with a girl baby dugong, Mariam, also found stranded in Krabi.

Mariam died on Saturday from an infection caused by bits of plastic lining her stomach. Mariam was cared for by veterinarians on Koh Libong in Trang province since being found on a Krabi beach in April. She had been monitored on live cams of the website of the Marine and Coastal Resources Department.

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