11 July 2024

Mariam, the orphaned baby dugong and darling of many netizens in Thailand for her much-publicized four month struggle to survive under the care of veterinarians, died of shock shortly after midnight Friday night.

Veterinarians found several pieces of plastic in her intestines and suspect that some of the plastic had blocked the intestines, resulting in infections.

Mr. Jatuporn Buruspat, director-general of the Marine and Coastal Resources Department, said that he felt very sorry about the death of Mariam, adding that officials had tried their best to take care of her since she was found stranded on the beach in Krabi province in April.

A report from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources said that, on Friday night, veterinarians found Mariam not breathing and could not detect a pulse. She was immediately taken out of the water and resuscitation efforts got her breathing again. She was later released into a nursery pond and rechecked but, again, no pulse could be detected. She was pronounced dead shortly after midnight.

Mr. Jatuporn admitted that it was not known when the plastic got into Mariam’s stomach, whether it happened before she was found or when she was released into the sea at Libong Island in Trang province during her rehabilitation.

Although Mariam is dead, Mr. Jatuporn said that the effort to conserve and protect the remaining dugongs in Thailand is still very much alive, adding that the story of Mariam has shown that Thai people love and attach importance to dugongs, as well as other endangered marine species in Thai waters.

He noted that the death of Mariam will inspire all concerned to protect the remaining dugongs, their habitat and sea grass, which is the source of food for the rare mammals.

National Resources and Environment Minister Varawuth Silpa-archa, speaking at a media conference this afternoon (Saturday), said that Mariam died because of a septic shock and a blocked digestive system.

He said, in his capacity as the minister, he pledges to make every effort possible to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again and vowed to use Mariam’s name as a conservation flagship for future natural conservation initiatives and activities, adding that everyone should join forces to keep the world safe from plastic.

“I hope the story of Mariam will motivate the world to deal with marine plastic waste. Each and every one of us has to ask ourselves if we are ready to do things to improve the situation, reduce the use of plastic and get rid of the waste properly” said the minister.

Mariam had, most recently, been in the care of the Marine Conservation Project of Coral Reefs and Marine Life of the Thai Seas, an initiative of Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana.