Today (August 17th) is National Dugong Conservation Day.  But the number of dugongs is only 200 – 250 in Thai waters. What kills the dugong? How are they important? If there is no dugong, what will happen?

Dugongs are distant relatives of elephants. They are mammals whose ancestors were on land more than 55 million years ago, but never landed in the sea again.

The main food of the dugong is sea grass. They therefore live near dense seagrass habitats. The dugong is an indicator of the abundance of seagrass ecosystems. And on the other hand, it plays a very important role in maintaining seagrass balance.

The dugong will plow both leaves and underground stems. So it’s like pruning, shoveling, and digging up old grass. Open the opportunity for a new set of underground stems. The more types of seagrass there are, the greater the number of creatures in the seagrass landscape.

They are also responsible for propagating seagrass seeds. like a wild beast that spreads the seeds of a forest If the seagrass lacks a dugong perfection will be reduced. and affects many other species.

Data from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources reveals that at least 12 dugongs die per year or an average of one per month. Currently, there are less than 250 dugongs in Thai waters. The culprit is fishing gear. climate change and plastic waste

About 90% of dugongs die from fishing gear. Drag and plow fishing also deteriorate the seagrass. Affects the food source of dugongs. destroy the spawning ground embryo nursery

Climate change is also a factor with cyclones destroying large areas of seagrass degradation. until thousands of dugongs lack food

Another danger that cannot be mentioned is plastic waste. Mariam the famous Thailand dugong died from ingesting plastic debris, causing infection.  Up to 80% of the plastic waste in the sea comes from the land.