Quantcast

Marium, Thailand’s Beloved Baby Dugong, Is the Latest Victim of Plastic Pollution

Animals
This picture taken on May 23 shows Marium swimming in the waters in southern Thailand. SIRACHAI ARUNRUGSTICHAI / AFP / Getty Images

Marium, an 8-month-old dugong who became an internet sensation in Thailand this spring, died after ingesting plastic, officials announced Saturday.


The marine mammal rose to fame when she was found lost and motherless near a beach in Southern Thailand, according to NPR and the Associated Press. Videos of marine biologists feeding her with milk and seagrass, caressing her and even singing to her spread online, turning her into a star.

"She taught us how to love and then went away as if saying please tell everyone to look after us and conserve her species," veterinarian Nantarika Chansue wrote in a Facebook post reported by AFP.

She was found bruised last week after being chased by a male dugong and was brought in for treatment, Department of Marine and Coastal Resources Director-General Jatuporn Buruspat told the Associated Press.

"We assume she wandered off too far from her natural habitat and was chased and eventually attacked by another male dugong, or dugongs, as they feel attracted to her," Jatuporn said.

But Marium suffered from more than external bruising. She died of shock shortly after midnight Saturday when attempts to resuscitate her with CPR failed, AFP reported.

The shock was caused by an infection made worse by several pieces of plastic in her intestine, her caregivers found. One piece was as long as eight inches. The plastic inflamed her intestines, leading to a buildup of gas in her digestive tract, infection in her blood and pus in her lungs, The Washington Post reported.

"Everyone is sad about her passing, but this is an issue that must be urgently resolved," Thailand's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources said in a Facebook post reported by The Washington Post. "If we want to conserve rare marine animals so they remain in existence with us, every sector, every person must help with marine trash."

Officials said they would launch a "Marium Project" in her honor to fight plastic pollution and bolster dugong conservation efforts.

Dugongs, a relative of the manatee, live in warm, shallow waters from East Africa to Australia, according to NPR. They are considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and are threatened by coastal development, shipping lanes, water pollution, fishing, human recreational activities and storms and floods caused by the climate crisis.

Dugongs are not the only marine mammals threatened by the buildup of plastics in the ocean. A whale that died in Thailand last year had 80 plastic bags in its stomach. In total, ocean plastics kill more than 100,000 marine mammals every year. An estimated 150 million metric tons of plastic circulate in the oceans, and eight million metric tons are added to this number annually, according to the Ocean Conservancy.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed by the Camp Fire on Nov. 15, 2018 in Paradise, Calif. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Respecting scientists has never been a priority for the Trump Administration. Now, a new investigation from The Guardian revealed that Department of the Interior political appointees sought to play up carbon emissions from California's wildfires while hiding emissions from fossil fuels as a way to encourage more logging in the national forests controlled by the Interior department.

Read More
Slowing deforestation, planting more trees, and cutting emissions of non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases like methane could cut another 0.5 degrees C or more off global warming by 2100. South_agency / E+ / Getty Images

By Dana Nuccitelli

Killer hurricanes, devastating wildfires, melting glaciers, and sunny-day flooding in more and more coastal areas around the world have birthed a fatalistic view cleverly dubbed by Mary Annaïse Heglar of the Natural Resources Defense Council as "de-nihilism." One manifestation: An increasing number of people appear to have grown doubtful about the possibility of staving-off climate disaster. However, a new interactive tool from a climate think tank and MIT Sloan shows that humanity could still meet the goals of the Paris agreement and limit global warming.

Read More
Sponsored
A baby burrowing owl perched outside its burrow on Marco Island, Florida. LagunaticPhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Burrowing owls, which make their homes in small holes in the ground, are having a rough time in Florida. That's why Marco Island on the Gulf Coast passed a resolution to pay residents $250 to start an owl burrow in their front yard, as the Marco Eagle reported.

Read More
Amazon and other tech employees participate in the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice continue to protest today. Karen Ducey / Getty Images

Hundreds of Amazon workers publicly criticized the company's climate policies Sunday, showing open defiance of the company following its threats earlier this month to fire workers who speak out on climate change.

Read More
Locusts swarm from ground vegetation as people approach at Lerata village, near Archers Post in Samburu county, approximately 186 miles north of Nairobi, Kenya on Jan. 22. "Ravenous swarms" of desert locusts in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia threaten to ravage the entire East Africa subregion, the UN warned on Jan. 20. TONY KARUMBA / AFP / Getty Images

East Africa is facing its worst locust infestation in decades, and the climate crisis is partly to blame.

Read More