Acting Lieutenant Wanlop Boonchan, a volunteer with the Kusoldharm Foundation rescue unit based at the Sarasin Bridge, was leading his team on the search for Piyanat Kamnerd, 25, when at about midday he saw a body floating in water, directly offshore from Wat Mai Khao.
The team had been searching the waters in front of various beaches, such as Sai Kaew Beach, Mai Khao Beach and the surrounding beach areas, Mr Wanlop explained.
Mr Wanlop and his team were at first startled by the find, but then realised the body was that of dugong, he said.
The dugong, almost one metre long, was estimated to weigh more than 80 kg.
Mr Wanlop estimated that the sea mammal had died at least three to four days earlier. No signs of attack were found, he said.
The dugong’s body was brought ashore and taken to the Sireetarn Marine Endangered Animal Rescue Center, based at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC) at Cape Panwa, to investigate the cause of death, Mr Wanlop confirmed.
The team were in their fourth day of searching for Mr Piyanat, from Takua Thung in Phang Nga, who parked his motorbike halfway across the bridge leading onto Phuket and jumped over the side into the fast-moving water below on Saturday (Nov 13).
Rescue workers have been searching for him since.
The search follows another man, Buncha Suksunit, 25, a resident of Baan Pru Sompan in Moo 8, Tambon Thepkrasattri, in Phuket, parking his pickup truck halfway across Thao Srisoonthorn Bridge, leading off the island, and jumping over the side late on Nov 3.
His body has yet to be recovered.