Young dugong dies in Thailand in blow for vulnerable species

BANGKOK (AP) – Marine resources officials in Thailand said an ailing five-month-old dugong has died during surgery, just days after the much-publicised death of another dugong from what biologists believe was a combination of shock and ingesting plastic waste.

The latest dugong was found in July washed ashore in southern Thailand and put in a protected enclosure by marine experts.

It was found to have contracting stomach muscles and an X-ray showed a build-up of gas in its intestine together with seagrass clogging its stomach.

It died on Thursday during surgery to have the seagrass removed.

Dugongs are listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and protected under Thai law.

There are about 250 in coastal waters. Experts said 17 have died this year, an abnormally high number.