The dugong, also known as a sea cow, was first spotted in difficulty by villagers on November 3 and was finally found by the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC) yesterday after a long search.
The PMBC staff found the animal seriously injured, with seven severe wounds to its head and skull. They monitored the animal yesterday in the water, then later that day decided to take it into the centre when its condition worsened.
This morning vets at the centre confirmed the mammal’s death.
Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong, the PMBC Marine Endangered Species Unit department chief, said, “the dugong weighed 388 kilogrammes and was 2.7 metres long, which is very big. It was more than 40 years old and we believe it had given birth to many babies in the past.”
Mr Kongkiat said the number of dugongs in the Andaman Sea was dropping rapidly. In the past 17 years, PMBC statistics show 341 dugong have died – nine of them this year including the one that died today.
The last survey of dugong numbers in 2011 showed there were around 135-145 living in waters off Trang, between six and 15 off Krabi, and around 15 in Phuket and Phang Nga Bay.
There are three main causes of unnatural dugong deaths: being trapped in fishing nets which means they are unable to come to the surface to breathe, being killed by boat propellers, or being caught by fisherman who want to sell their teeth as talismans.