A female dolphin that marine biologists at Phuket Marine Biological Centre hoped to save died on Thursday night. Little hope is held now for her surviving male offspring, about a year old, which is receiving 24-hour care.
PHUKET: A dolphin and her calf are being nursed back to health at Phuket's Marine Biology Centre at Cape Panwa.
Fishermen found the pair before dawn on January 4 near Nok Island in Phang Nga province, ''very weak and struggling to swim,'' according to Patcharaporn Kaewmong, a specialist at the Marine Biology Centre.
The two-metre striped dolphin and her one-metre calf were transferred to Tublamu in Phang Nga, before being collected by the Phuket's Marine Biology Centre staff on January 6.
The adult female is being treated for a ''serious'' viral infection that has made her too weak to swim without the help of a harness, said Khun Patcharaporn.
Her one-year old son, also suffering from a milder infection, can swim but is not accepting food.
It is uncertain at this stage whether the female will survive the virus, according to Khun Patcharaporn.
Even if both dolphins do make a full recovery, the Centre's staff will face a difficult decision when it comes to releasing the pair into the wild.
Last month, a two year old dolphin drowned in a fishing net, just three weeks after it was released at Phi Phi by the centre's staff.
There are fears that this mother and calf could meet a similar fate.
But the Marine Biology Centre's current facilities are not equipped to care for dolphins for an extended period, according to Khun Patcharaporn.
The gestation period for Striped dolphins is about one year, with calves consuming their mothers' milk for about 18 months after birth.
Young striped dolphins spend much of their first few years close to their mothers' side.
The Phuket Marine Biological Centre was awarded the Phuketwan
Best of Phuket 2012 Award for Environmental Excellence in trying to save Phuket's marine life.