The body of a 40-year old female dugong was found dead off the coast of Trang last week. A sad and unnecessary incident to occur in this otherwise beautiful diving destination. Phuket marine biologists were concerned enough to undertake an 8-hour autopsy to ascertain the cause of death.
The results indicate that she had suffered major shock and distress, followed by intense exertion. Researchers deduced from the rate her heart had been beating that she had been attempting to outswim a trawling net and had died from exhaustion.
Phaothep Cherdsukjai, a researcher at Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC) added, “We found sea grass in her mouth, so we believe the dugong was eating when she was killed”.
The sea cow, or dugong can be found in Thai National Marine Parks. The largest seagrass beds are found near dive holiday resorts, particularly along the Andaman Sea coast. Dugong use these areas for feeding and commercial fishing is banned from these territories.
Sadly fishing boats are posing a serious threat to their survival as trawling nets and boat injuries still constitute the major cause of death for these vulnerable creatures.
Source: Phuket Gazette