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Beloved baby dugong ‘Mariam’ dies in Thailand with plastic-lined stomach

A sick baby dugong whose fight for recovery won hearts in Thailand and cast a spotlight on ocean conservation has died from an infection exacerbated by bits of plastic lining her stomach, officials said on Saturday.

Mariam washed up in shallow waters off southwestern Thailand months ago and photos of her nuzzling playfully next to rescuers quickly went viral.

The discovery soon after of another orphaned dugong brought the sea cows celebrity status, the attention of a Thai princess – who named the second one “Jamil” – and round-the-clock webcasts giving viewers a front-row seat to feedings and treatment.

But Mariam died just after midnight after going into shock and efforts to resuscitate her failed, said Chaiyapruk Werawong, head of Trang province marine park.

“She died from a blood infection and pus in her stomach,” he said, adding they found small amounts of plastic waste in her intestinal tract.

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