Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

Women walk from Santa Monica beach after a social media workout on the sand on May 12, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Independence Day weekend is a busy time for coastal communities as people flock to the beaches to soak up the sun during the summer holiday. This year is different. Some of the country's most popular beach destinations in Florida and California have decided to close their beaches to stop the surge in coronavirus cases.

Read More Show Less
Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans and others who suffer from PTSD. Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Arash Javanbakht

For some combat veterans, the Fourth of July is not a time to celebrate the independence of the country they love. Instead, the holiday is a terrifying ordeal. That's because the noise of fireworks – loud, sudden, and reminiscent of war – rocks their nervous system. Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans.

Read More Show Less
Koala populations across parts of Australia are on track to become extinct before 2050 unless "urgent government intervention" occurs. Mathias Appel / Flickr

Koala populations across parts of Australia are on track to become extinct before 2050 unless "urgent government intervention" occurs, warns a year-long inquiry into Australia's "most loved animal." The report published by the Parliament of New South Wales (NSW) paints a "stark and depressing snapshot" of koalas in Australia's southeastern state.

Read More Show Less
NASA is advancing tools like this supercomputer model that created this simulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to better understand what will happen to Earth's climate if the land and ocean can no longer absorb nearly half of all climate-warming CO2 emissions. NASA/GSFC

By Jeff Berardelli

For the past year, some of the most up-to-date computer models from the world's top climate modeling groups have been "running hot" – projecting that global warming may be even more extreme than earlier thought. Data from some of the model runs has been confounding scientists because it challenges decades of consistent projections.

Read More Show Less
A child stands in what is left of his house in Utuado, Puerto Rico, which was almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria, on Oct. 12, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios. Flickr, CC by 2.0
By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

To hear many journalists tell it, the spring of 2020 has brought a series of extraordinary revelations. Look at what the nation has learned: That our health-care system was not remotely up to the challenge of a deadly pandemic. That our economic safety net was largely nonexistent. That our vulnerability to disease and death was directly tied to our race and where we live. That our political leadership sowed misinformation that left people dead. That systemic racism and the killing of Black people by police is undiminished, despite decades of protest and so many Black lives lost.
Read More Show Less
President Trump's claim last September that Hurricane Dorian was headed for Alabama's gulf coast was quickly refuted by employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An independent investigation found that NOAA's chief violated the agency's ethics when he backed Trump's warning and doctored map that used a Sharpie to alter the storm's path, as EcoWatch reported.
Read More Show Less

Trending

African bush elephants in the Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve in Botswana on Nov. 22, 2016. Michael Jansen / Flickr

More than 350 elephants have died in Botswana since May, and no one knows why.

Read More Show Less