Popular baby dugong dies in Thailand after 'ingesting plastic waste'

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Chaiyapruk Werawong, head of Trang province marine park, told AFP: "She died from a blood infection and pus in her stomach". The infection spread, causing shock, officials said in the announcement.

Marium was taken under the care of veterinarians in the sea off Libong Island and was trained to improve survival skills in the natural habitat. She was dubbed the "nation's sweetheart" by Thailand's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR).

The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources said that Marium's death should serve as a warning about the effects of plastic waste on wildlife.

"Marium", a baby dugong lost from her mom in Thailand, was found last week bruised after being chased and supposedly attacked by a male dugong during the mating season.

An 8-month-old dugong nurtured by marine experts after it was found lost near a beach in southern Thailand has died of what biologists believe was a combination of shock and ingesting plastic waste, officials said Saturday.

When Marium was rescued, photos of her cuddling with marine biologists went viral on social media, and she became Thailand's "little angel".

Mariam had been under the care of Thai authorities who fed her milk and sea grass, before releasing her back into the ocean a few times, but she came back each time, carrying wounds from her encounters in the sea.

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The gray lumbering mammal was mourned around the world Saturday amid calls for a reduction in plastic waste.

Last year, a pilot whale in Thailand died after eating more than 80 plastic bags. Even seabirds are consuming plastic at an unprecedented rate.

Scientists say some 8 million metric tons of plastic is entering the ocean every year.

According to National Geographic, it can be found in warm coastal waters from East Africa to Australia, including the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

The dugong is a species of marine mammal similar to the American manatee and can grow to about 11 feet in length. Their conservation status is vulnerable, and the population is decreasing amid threats of pollution and habitat loss.

He said: "Her death will remind Thais and people all over the world not to dispose trash into the oceans".

"She taught us how to love", she said. A team of veterinarians tried for hours to revive her, but to no avail; Marium was declared dead just after midnight on Saturday.

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