Another dugong, the 21st this year, has been found dead, trapped in fish net in the sea off Khura Buri district of Thailand’s southern province of Phang-nga.
Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawat, vice dean of the Fisheries Faculty at Kasetsart University, said in his Facebook post today (Wednesday) that 21 deaths was the highest number recorded in one year for the endangered sea mammals in Thailand.
He said that the dugong found in the sea off Laem Mai Tai, Ban Thung Rak in Khura Buri district, which is abundant with sea grass, the staple food of dugongs, is one of the 12 zones under “Mariam Project” which works for the conservation of dugongs.
The cause of death of this latest dugong was drowning, said Dr. Thon as he pointed at the fish net ensnaring the animal, adding that dugong breathe air and will drown if trapped under water for too long.
Since 90% of dugong fatalities have been caused by humans, mostly by fishing equipment discarded near protected dugong feeding grounds, Dr. Thon stressed the need for proper planning to ensure co-existence with sea mammals is possible.
He expressed hope that the Mariam Project, named after the baby dugong Mariam, will be approved by the cabinet so that there will be funding to implement the project to protect dugongs in the 12 proposed protected zones.