Thailand: At Least 400 Rare Marine Animals Perished in 2017

By Asaree Thaitrakulpanich, 25th December 2017;

Thailand’s life aquatic faces a murky future after a year that saw sensitive species injured by humans, beached ashore or choked on trash.

Marine officials said about 400 endangered marine animals died in Thai waters in 2017, with the population of Dugongs (Dugong dugon) running especially low in a year that also saw the Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) declared endangered.

“I can’t estimate whether more or fewer animals will die next year,” Weerapong Laovetchprasit, a government marine wildlife veterinarian in Rayong said Monday.

Although the number rose considerably from last year’s 355, marine officials at a Friday press conference Friday said that’s due to better reporting via social media, not necessarily an increase in animal deaths.

“About 400 rare marine animals died this year, mostly because they were beached, injured by fishing boats or ate trash,” said Jatuporn Burutpat, director of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.

Sea Turtles, Dugongs, Dolphins and Whales are all among marine animals considered rare.

The department’s developmental institute director Ukkrit Sataphumintr said that only 2,500 to 3,500 Sea Turtles are left in Thailand. There are important breeding grounds on Ko Khram in Chonburi, the Similan Islands and Mai Khao Beach on Phuket. He said the low numbers are a cause for concern but credited awareness campaigns for some progress.

“Campaigns for Thai people to conserve Sea Turtles only started working recently after 30 years of trying,” Ukkrit said. “Thai people only just stopped eating Turtle eggs.”

There are about 2,000 Dolphins and Whales in Thailand comprised of more than 27 species. Ukkrit said the marine department has been following the movement of these mammals, especially those of Bryde’s Whales (Balaenoptera edeni or Balaenoptera brydei), and identified more than 60 individuals.

Dugongs may be in the most dire straits, with only 200 to 250 left, mostly in the Andaman Sea around Koh Libong in Trang province.

Nantarika Chansue, a veterinarian at Chulalongkorn University, said passers-by who encounter beached animals should report them to the Department of Marine Resources’ research branches.

Nantarika’s efforts on behalf of marine animals came to public attention earlier this year when she operated on Piggy Bank, a giant Sea Turtle that died following surgery to remove 915 coins from its stomach.

In March, Piggy Bank became a symbol for Sea Turtles kept in captivity when the 25-year-old reptile died from surgery complications, capturing the news cycle for several days.

In December, the Irrawaddy Dolphin and Finless Porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides) – freshwater mammals that have their last bastion in Thailand – were declared endangered by the IUCN Red list.

Any beached marine animals, dead or alive, should be reported to the Department of Marine Resources’s research branches in Rayong, Samut Sakhon, Chumphon, Songkhla or Phuket provinces for rescue or autopsy either via Facebook or calling the listed phone numbers.

Source: Khaosod English

Thailand: At Least 400 Rare Marine Animals Perished in 2017

Photos: Gary Cabinta, via Peewee Bacuño Twitter

Philippines: Dugong found dead on Sarangani beach
By , 17th October 2017;

A lifeless Dugong (Dugong dugon) or sea cow was found on the beach in Glan, Sarangani on Tuesday morning.

According to GMA News’ stringer Peewee Bacuño, the Dugong was spotted along a coastal area in Sitio Nacolil, Barangay Lago at 5 a.m.

In March this year, a dead Dugong was also found in the province.

Residents of Barangay Kayupo in Kiamba town spotted the sea mammal, which weighed more than 500 kilograms.

Source: GMA News Online

The endangered mammal was the third dead Dugong reported in the southern province this year.

Thailand: Female Dugong’s death ‘caused by illness’
By Methee Muangkaew, 14th July 2017;

A female Dugong found on a beach in Kan Tang district this week later died as a result of various ailments, veterinarians said Thursday.

The endangered mammal was the third dead Dugong reported in the southern province this year.

A forensic examination revealed the mammal was about 50 years old, weighed around 300kg and was suffering from various chronic ailments, veterinarians from the Phuket Marine Biological Centre said.

The symptoms included lung infections, swollen lymph nodes, parasitic infections in the air passage and the nose, a well as inflammation of the intestines, womb, ovaries and urinary bladder, said Prachuap Khosarat, director of the marine resources conservation section at the Seventh Marine and Coastal Resources Administration Office in Trang.

The Dugong’s intestines contained gas that caused the body to swell and float before being washed ashore in Ban Pak Khlong Ban Phrao in tambon Koh Libong on Tuesday, he said.

The Dugong wasn’t pregnant as was first suspected, he added.

Although it was still alive when it was found on the beach, the Dugong appeared very sick and frail, according to Mr Prachuap.

Despite attempts by a veterinary team to save its life, the animal died after an operation that took around 15 hours.

The team did everything it could to save the animal, Mr Prachuap said.

Source: Bangkok Post

Pak Atan (right) and his family members could not hold back their tears as they held the dead body of Si Tenang, the baby dugong, back in 1999.

Malaysia: Si Tenang, the little Dugong that stole our hearts
By Andrew Sia, 24th June 2017;

The case of Si Tenang the baby Dugong (Dugong dugon) captured national attention in 1999.

Atan Hussin (Pak Atan), a fisherman in southern Johor, had accidentally caught a baby Dugong in his net. Finding that it had been bruised, he decided to take care of it at his kelong (a floating raft house with nets). He and his family grew fonder of this baby marine mammal and named it Si Tenang.

However, within two weeks, the authorities asked him to release the Dugong into the wild. Pak Atan did so, but he kept looking out for Si Tenang, hoping that it would come back to visit him.

But within 48 hours, he was heartbroken when Si Tenang was found dead after it had been tangled up in other nets (Dugongs are mammals that need to regularly surface to breathe).

The public should know that Dugongs are facing many threats that may lead to their extinction, underlined Dr Leela Rajamani, a dugong specialist from Universiti Sains Malaysia.

In Johor, the main problems are rapid coastal development, accidental entanglement in nets, boat collisions, and destructive fishing methods (such as trawling and rawai longlines full of hooks). In Sabah, Leela said there is the added problem of fish bombing.

Seagrass specialist Dr Jillian Ooi of Universiti Malaya said the Dugong is listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This means that certain Dugong populations are greatly reduced in size, hurt by human activities, and in danger of local extinction.

On April 21, a Dugong was found dead at Pulau Tinggi near Mersing.

“The Fisheries Department thinks it was probably caught in a longline or rawai because there were hook scars on it,” said Ooi.

Rawai are floating death traps which can stretch for hundreds of metres and have up to 2,000 hooks.

“This type of fishing gear needs to be prohibited because they are so dangerous to marine life. The worst damage occurs when the longline breaks off and floats around in the sea, cruelly hooking anything that lies in its path, including Turtles, Sharks and Dugongs.”

Leela explained that Dugong conservation in Malaysia took off after the Si Tenang incident.

“The Government allocated funds for research on these creatures and on seagrass. Expertise development was also one of the priorities. I benefited from this with an ample research grant and PhD scholarship. The Department of Fisheries has also drafted a Dugong management plan.”

But she noted that much more needs to be done. For starters, more research is needed on seagrass, since this is the main source of food for Dugongs.

“Seagrass has not been properly mapped out except in small areas of Sabah and the eastern islands of Johor. So there is a lack of information for a proper Dugong conservation plan.”

She added that issues remain with the enforcement of existing legislation, for instance, not allowing trawlers to come closer than five nautical miles to marine parks.

“Dugongs are a charismatic, flagship species. They act as an umbrella species to conserve other species in the habitat where they live.”

She stressed the need for education programmes about Dugongs targeted at different audiences such as corporations, rural people (who live close to Dugongs) and city folk.

“I hope that more Malaysians will develop a sense of pride and compassion towards these gentle creatures.”


Malaysia: Dead Dugong washes ashore near Mersing
By Mohd Farhaan Shah, 21st April 2017;

The carcass of an adult Dugong (Dugong dugon) has been discovered at Pulau Tinggi near Mersing.

Villagers found the mammal, with blood oozing out of its eyes, along the coast near Kampung Tanjung Balang at 5pm on Thursday evening.

Johor Health, Environment, Education, and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat confirmed the discovery, describing it as a huge loss to the state’s marine life.

He pointed out that the state Veterinary Department together with Rantau Abang Fisheries Research Institute would conduct a post-mortem on the carcass.

“We want to find out the cause of its death, whether it died naturally or otherwise.

"From 2015, we have found four Dugong carcasses in the area,” he said.

Ayub also pointed out that the state government was in the midst of gazetting the area as a Dugong sanctuary to protect the species.

Source: The Star

Photos: Reynan Catubig

An adult Dugong stranded dead in Barangay Kayupo, Kiamba, Sarangani Province yesterday.

Source: Peewee Bacuño Twitter

A marine official examines the body of a century-old Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) which died after eating trash off the coast of Chumphon province in May 2016.

Thailand: 355 Threatened Marine Animals Killed in 2016
By Asaree Thaitrakulpanich, 23rd December 2016;

It was a bad year for marine life, officials said Thursday.

In a year that saw the last known member of a Manatee-like species die in the gulf, officials have been unable to halt the decline of vulnerable species, 355 of which have died since January in a 10 percent increase over 2015.

“The reason for their deaths are largely the same old reasons which can’t be solved, such as sickness and injury from both natural and man-made causes,” said Pinsak Suraswadi, director of the Marine and Coastal Resources Department. “Man-made causes include eating trash and injury from fishermen’s boats.”

The 355 dead marine animals included 11 Dugongs, 180 Sea Turtles and 164 Dolphins and Whales.

Late last month the bruised and battered body of the last known Dugong (Dugong dugon), identified by marine biologists as DU-391, was found off the coast of Rayong. No. 391 refers to the fact it was the 391st dead Dugong to be found.

About the same number of Sea Turtles died in the gulf and Andaman Sea, while most Dugongs died in the gulf. Twice as many Dolphins and Whales died in the Gulf of Thailand than the Andaman Sea.

Beached Dolphins also had little chance of survival once they flopped ashore.

“Most beached Dolphins that people find are severely sick, so their chance of surviving is virtually zero. Only sick Dolphins swim to shallow waters near the coast,” Pinsak said.

Beached Whales were often found as carcasses, but most beached Sea Turtles were rescued, Pinsak said.

Pinsak also said that for the past three years his department has been training coastal locals on how to proceed when finding an injured or beached marine animal. Pinsak said that this program helped rescue an increased 10 percent of marine animals, and the program would continue.

Source: Khaosod English

Photos: Seub Nakasathain Foundation

Thailand: Last Dugong in Gulf of Thailand found dead
1st December 2016;

A male Dugong (Dugong dugon), believed to be the only remaning Dugong in the Gulf of Thailand, was found dead in the sea of Rayong province last week, according to today’s report.

The dead Dugong was found on Nov. 25, only two days after a dead Bryde’s Whale (Balaenoptera edeni) was found near the Lamchabang Pier in Chonburi.

The male Dugong was bruised and bloody along his body, indicating a collision before death, according to Marine and Coastal Resources Research and Development Center of the Eastern Gulf of Thailand.

The research center revealed that there were previously a couple of Dugongs living along the coast of Rayong to Chanthaburi. Last year, there was a rumor that one of them was dead and sold on the black market. Therefore, this means the dead Dugong found last week could have been the last one on the eastern coast.

Polluted oceans endanger their lives but Dugongs are also hunted for their bones, which are used to make amulets, just like Elephant ivory and Rhino horn.

Seub Nakasathain Foundation’s website reported that the Dugong was given code DU-391, which means that during the past 30 years, Thailand has lost 391 Dugongs.

There is some hope though, according to aquatic veterinarian Poommate Chomchat of the research center. Dugongs leave a unique trail by chewing through seagrass, their main source of food. Experts hope they will find out there are still Dugongs in the Thai sea by seeing patterns in the seagrass, Khaosod reported.

“We want to believe so,” he said.

Poommate hopes that there are living Dugongs in the central and southern parts of the Gulf of Thailand. He believes conserving the natural seagrass will make the Dugongs return.

Source: Coconuts Bangkok

A mother and calf “duyong” (Dugong) (Dugong dugon) found dead yesterday Sept. 01, 2016 in Barangay Glan Padidu, Glan, Sarangani Province. Mr. Ismail Dante a bantay-dagat found the mother near the “balsa” around 1:00AM while patrolling the area for marine turtles and found the calf later a few meters away from the mother. No external abrasion was found in the body of both animal. Necropsy was done by Rino Langomez Asperaga Municipal Veterinary of Glan, stomach and intestines was infested by parasitic worms while lungs was filled with water.

Source: Gary John Cabinta on Sarangani Wildlife Protection and Rescue Team Network Facebook, via Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines Facebook