Rescued baby sea cow dies with a stomach full of plastic waste

Department of Marine and Coastal Resources feeds sea-grass spread to Marium, baby dugong lost from her mom in Libong island, Trang province, southern Thailand (Sirachai Arunrugstichai via AP, File)

A baby sea cow has died with a stomach full of plastic waste.

The eight-month-old dugong was rescued and nurtured by marine experts after it was found lost near a beach in southern Thailand.

Sadly, the sea cow, affectionately named Marium, later died of what biologists believe was a combination of shock and ingesting plastic rubbish.

The female dugong - a large ocean mammal similar to a manatee - became a hit in Thailand after images of biologists embracing and feeding her with milk and sea grass spread across social media.

Veterinarians and volunteers had set out in canoes to feed Marium for up to 15 times a day while also giving her health checks.

Plastic found inside the stomach of a rescued sea cow

Last week, she was found bruised after being chased and supposedly attacked by a male dugong during the mating season, said Jatuporn Buruspat, the director-general of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.

She was brought in for treatment in the artificial sea on Libong Island in Krabi province.

"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," Buruspat said.

Marium, a baby dugong, has died with a stomach full of plastic (Sirachai Arunrugstichai via AP, File)

An autopsy showed a large amount of plastic waste in her intestine, which could also have played a part in her death as it led to gastritis and blood infection, he said.

Mr Jatuporn said it was likely Marium thought the plastic were food.

The dugong is a species of marine mammal that can grow to about 3.4 metres in length. The species’ conservation status is listed as vulnerable.

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