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New orphan dugong named ‘handsome sea prince’ by Thai royal

July 07, 2019

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Baby dugong being cared for at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre.—AFP
Baby dugong being cared for at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre.—AFP

BANGKOK: A second orphan baby dugong found stranded on a southern Thai beach has been named “handsome sea prince” by one of the country’s princesses, officials said on Saturday, as sea cow craze sweeps the kingdom.

Southern Thailand’s waters are home to about 250 of the mammals, classified as vulnerable. A baby dubbed Mariam washed ashore on its beaches last month — sparking interest in ocean conservation.

The newly named dugong was found on Monday with scratches on its back and is now rehabilitating in a pool at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre.

Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) announced “Princess Sirivannavari has graciously named the baby dugong Jamil”.

The name “is from the Yawi language, and it means ‘handsome prince of the sea’”, the DMCR said.

Yawi is used in Thailand’s southernmost provinces and spoken by Muslim Malays.

The princess, who is a fashion designer, has taken “both dugongs... under her royal patronage,” the DMCR said in its post.

It added she has set up “working teams for the conservation of Thailand’s sea and corals, to conserve rare and near-extinct marine animals”.

The dugong named Mariam has become a social media star with photos and videos of her being cradled, fed, and swimming going viral after her rescue last month.

The DMCR is now setting up a livestream of her in captivity.

Mariam’s antics have captivated Thais, prompting a growing interest for ocean conservation in the country’s plastic-choked waters.

Dugong beachings can be attributed to fishing and other human activities, said the Phuket Marine Biological Centre.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2019