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

Rob Greenfield pictured above is driven by the concept of "living a life where [he] can wake up and feel good about [his] life." Rob Greenfield / Facebook

For one year Rob Greenfield grew and foraged all of his own food. No grocery stores, no restaurants, no going to a bar for a drink, not even medicines from the pharmacy.

Read More Show Less
Apple has removed all 181 vaping-related apps from its App Store. VioletaStoimenova / E+ / Getty Images

Apple has removed all 181 vaping-related apps from its App Store, the company announced on Friday. The removal of the apps comes after thousands of people across the country have developed lung illnesses from vaping and 42 people have died.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
A Keystone Pipeline oil spill has affected nearly 10 times the amount of land than previously thought. CBC News / YouTube screenshot

A spill at the Keystone Pipeline that began last month has affected nearly 10 times the amount of land than previously thought, state officials said Monday.

Read More Show Less
We shouldn't have to be toxicologists to be able to grab something at the grocery store that doesn't contain dangerous ingredients. Daniel Orth / Flickr

By Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner

A major but largely glossed over report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental and public health nonprofit based in Washington, DC, shows that thousands of untested chemicals (an estimated 2,000, to be exact) are found in conventional packaged foods purchasable in U.S. supermarkets. And yes, all of them are legal.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

The deforestation rate in Brazil's Amazon rainforest is at its highest in more than a decade, CNN reported Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Traffic on Highway 101 in Los Angeles, California on March 25, 2015. Eric Demarcq / Flickr

California will stop buying vehicles from the more than a dozen automakers including General Motors (GM), Fiat Chrysler and Toyota who sided with the Trump administration on the question of whether the state has the authority to set its own emissions standards, CalMatters first reported Friday.

Read More Show Less

Record flood water levels in Venice hit again on Sunday making this the worst week of flooding in the city in over 50 years.

Read More Show Less