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The team of Phuket biologists work on the dugong after its tragic death

Last Rites for a Phuket Dugong, Harmless Creatures on a Path to Extinction

Wednesday, November 7, 2012
PHUKET: Marine biologists believe a propeller blow to the head killed a massive dugong, one of only seven still known to inhabit the Phuket region.

An autopsy was being carried out on the giant creature today at Phuket Marine Biological Centre at Cape Panwa, in eastern Phuket.

Five of a team of 10 were engaged in the surgical process of learning as much as possible from the tragic death.

The dugong died suddenly yesterday, soon after a Phuketwan photographer took a series of shots showing wounds to her head.

The dugong, a female, was reckoned to have been 40 years old. She weighed 388 kilos and measured 2.67 metres.

Three dugongs have been seen in the past few days, swimming around their customary seagrass feeding bed off Cape Panwa, where developers once proposed building a marina.

There are just six or seven dugongs left in the region, marine biologists say, where once the population of dugongs was much greater.

The rest have been killed or driven out as Phuket tourism and the fishing industry brought more people, more boats, more construction run-off and more garbage.

A coincidental series of deaths of turtles, dolphins and whales around Phuket in recent weeks has highlighted the declining nature of the region's marine life.

The harmless dugong has been hunted for thousands of years for its meat and oil and many populations are now close to extinction. Individuals can live to 70 years of age.

Comments

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Phuket Marine office chief Phuripat Theerakulpisut should reinforce the speed in coastal area which is 3 knots within the zone in the 300 meters.
Speedboats are entering Phuket Port near Rassada Pier at fast speed and Marine Police do nothing to fine speedboat captains who should be charged for negligence.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on November 7, 2012 11:59

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"The rest have been killed or driven out as Phuket tourism and the fishing industry brought more people, more boats, more construction run-off and more garbage."

And the authorities still don't care providing the money continues to roll in.

Posted by Graham on November 7, 2012 12:59

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Thankyou for this story; many people not aware there are dugongs on the Andaman coast. We now live on the Chanthaburi coast, an area that once had a population of dugongs, the last sighting here was April 2006, now we have several concrete statues in their memory.
IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists them as 'vulnerable' and on the list of 40 species in Thailand facing extinction.
Good work from the people involved in trying to save this one, sad it ended this way.

Posted by Glenn on November 7, 2012 18:20


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