She eats sea grass, drinks milk from a rubber glove, snuggles up to passing canoes and frequently beaches herself. But these idiosyncrasies have not stopped an entire nation from falling in love with her. Thailand has a new national sweetheart – an orphaned baby dugong called Mariam. Mariam is being hand-reared after she was found alone near a beach in Thailand’s southern Krabi province in April and rescued. After photos showing the five-month-old marine creature appearing to hug her human helpers went viral online, Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) dubbed her “the nation’s sweetheart”. Now she is poised to become the star of a live video feed and experts are designing a coastal holding pen to protect her from passing boats. Great Barrier Reef: conservationists campaign for net-free zone to protect dugongs Read more Around 200 dugongs, which are a species of manatee, are believed to live in Thai waters. They usually stay close to their mothers until they are 18 months’ old, but in April marine researchers found Marium swimming by herself. After conservationists moved her to a nearby dugong habitat, Marium – whose name means “lady of the sea” in local dialect – repeatedly […]

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