Baby dugong Mariam is ill, condition 'worrying'

Baby dugong Mariam is ill, condition 'worrying'

Baby dugong Mariam has developed a serious lung infection since being attacked by a wild adult phayoon last week. (Photo from @DnpReport Twitter account)
Baby dugong Mariam has developed a serious lung infection since being attacked by a wild adult phayoon last week. (Photo from @DnpReport Twitter account)

Mariam the baby dugong has developed a serious illness after being attacked by an adult dugong while swimming in the Andaman Sea.

Veterinarian Nantarika Chansue of Chulalongkorn University said on Monday Mariam is suffering from a lung infection, dehydration and probably stomach ache and other symptoms. 

The young dugong's pulse rate was high, at 140 per minute, and she had difficulty breathing. "(Her condition) is worrying," Ms Nantarika said in a Facebook message.

The year-old dugong, or phayoon in Thai, fell ill last week after she was attacked by a male dugong while swimming in the Andaman Sea.

Mariam has been nurtured on Koh Libong, off Kantang district in Trang province, by vets and residents since she was found lying ashore in Muang district of Krabi province in April. It is planned to return her to the sea once she is strong enough to survive alone.

Mariam, meaning a lady with a beautiful heart, is the first phayoon known to be cared for by humans.

Growing up away from her own kind, Mariam mistakenly thinks an orange kayak is her mum.

Her life is being closely followed on social media, with regular posts by the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department. (continues below)

Veterinarian Nantarika Chansue checks the condition of baby dugong Mariam.

The department has assigned vets to treat her around the clock since the incident.

Director-general Chatuporn Buruspat said the department was considering three options -- moving Mariam to a closed area set aside for her near Libong; taking her to Rajamangala University of Technology Srivijaya Trang campus; or airlifting her to the Marine Biological Centre in Phuket.

"We will leave the decision to the veterinarians taking care of her," he said.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said everyone was hoping the young marine mammal would get better. "Nobody is giving up, but we will accept what ever happens," he said.


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