A dugong who has been named Mariam has become Thailand's latest celebrity figure after it was found swimming alone in Krabi. The marine mammal is melting hearts across the country.
Conservationists suspect that the dugong was an orphan. As per reports, Mariam the six-month orphaned Dugong, may soon have a live video feed dedicated to her. Mariam won hearts across Thailand after a video of her hugging her human surfaced online. The video has since gone viral. Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) has addressed her as “nation’s sweetheart”.
Mariam was rescued and taken to a nearby dugong habitat, Phuket Marine Biological Centre, where she would tend to go up to the boats and the canoes, as per local reports. Mariam is being looked after by park officials, local conservation groups and veterinarians. Dugongs are a type of sea cow or Manatee which are found in waters around Thailand. As per the International Union of Conservation for Nature (IUCN), dugongs are vulnerable and face the risk of extinction. Ever since she was rescued, Mariam is being cared for in every possible way. Her rescuers are using the hand-rearing technique, cuddles while feeding and she is being hand-fed milk and seagrass.
Even so, it's quite uncertain that Mariam will survive in the wild. An online appeal has been made to raise enough money through Mariam's fans. The appeal has been made to collect funds and pay for her care for over a year, along with enabling the video live-stream which may be put in place to monitor her daily activities.
Thanks to Mariam, people have started taking interest in marine conservation. Mariam's rescue comes as a wake-up call for the immediate need to clean up the plastic choked waters in and around Thailand's coast which is home to almost 250 dugongs. Trapped dugongs frequent Southern Thailand's beaches as human activities have led to disturbance in their habitat.
Earlier this week, another baby Dugong was found stranded on a beach in Krabi.