In Thailand, a lost baby dugong is being nurtured by a group of vets who found the animal after she had become separated from her mother. She is estimated to be 5-month-old female dugong has been named Marium.
The baby dugong found in Thailand by a group of veterinarians has become an instant social media star after videos posted online shows the cute marine mammal being fed and nurtured by the vets. Nicknamed Marium, she was found alone near a beach on Ko Poda island in Krabi province in April.
Officials tried to put Marium back into the sea but the later swam back to shore, following the humans. “She’s attached and tries to swim and cling to the boat as if it was her mother and when we are swimming she would come and tuck under our arms. It’s almost like the way she would tuck under her mother,” the director of the Aquatic Animal Research Center of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Veterinarian Science Nantarika Chansue says in a statement.
Dugongs are among the most popular marine mammals of all. This is due in particular to the fact that this animal is particularly friendly, and that it looks like a big stuffed animal living at the bottom of the oceans. Beyond its friendly appearance and the sympathy it inspires, the dugong is also a fascinating marine species.
Nicknamed the “sea cow”, the dugong has the particularity of raking the seabed to graze grass. It swallows up 30 to 40 kilos a day, leaving behind a real wake similar to those traced by lawnmowers. Indeed, several hours a day, the dugong devotes himself to devour herbaria, an unusual habit that makes him the only marine mammal to be totally herbivorous. It is thanks to the vibrissae, hairs that dot his body, that he can orient himself and find his food. The dugong belongs to the family of sirenians. This name is inherited from many legends: sailors would have confused the animal with a siren because of its shape and its seductive song.
An endangered species
The dugong weighs on avegare 300 kilos and can live up to 70 years but its survival is today put at risk. Its range is gigantic as it extends from East Africa to Southern Oceania. The species is confined to coastal areas and is therefore particularly vulnerable to human pressure. Indeed, dugongs are the target of many threats such as the disappearance of seagrass, the screws of boats that can hit them or hunters, fond of this big mammal.