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Sick dolphin calf improving with help

RAYONG, THAILAND (AP) – The Irrawaddy dolphin calf – sick and too weak to swim – was drowning in a tidal pool on Thailand’s shore when fishermen found him.

The fishermen quickly alerted marine conservationists, who advised them how to provide emergency care until a rescue team could transport the baby to Thailand’s Marine and Coastal Resources Research and Development Center for veterinary attention. The baby was nicknamed Paradon, roughly translated as “brotherly burden”, because those involved knew from day one that saving his life is not easy.

Irrawaddy dolphins, considered a vulnerable species by International Union for Conservation of Nature, are found in the shallow coastal waters of South and Southeast Asia and in three rivers in Myanmar, Cambodia and Indonesia. Their survival is threatened by habitat loss, pollution and illegal fishing.

Officials from the marine research centre believe around 400 Irrawaddy dolphins remain along the country’s eastern coast, bordering Cambodia.

Since Paradon was found by the fishermen on July 22, dozens of veterinarians and volunteers have helped care for him at the centre in Rayong on the Gulf of Thailand.

“We said among ourselves that the chance of him surviving was quite low, judging from his condition,” a veterinarian at the centre Thanaphan Chomchuen, said on Friday.

“Normally, dolphins found stranded on the shore are usually in such a terrible condition. The chances that these dolphins would survive are normally very, very slim. But we gave him our best try on that day.”

Workers placed him in a seawater pool, treated the lung infection that made him so sick, and enlisted volunteers to watch him round the clock.

The baby dolphin ‘Paradon’ at the Marine and Coastal Resources Research and Development Centre in Thailand. PHOTO: AP
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