Sick dugong “cause for deep alarm”

Sick dugong "cause for deep alarm"

Seagrass lost endangers animal

Sick dugong 'cause for deep alarm'
The remains of a orangutans is found washed ashore at Koh Libong early this month. ( Photo: Department of Marine and Coastal Resources )

An gaunt and overworked dugong was sighted last month near Trang’s Koh Libong, a distinguished biodiversity for this sea mammal.

The dugong’s state has sparked issue among both the consumer and scientists, given the collapse of seagrass around the area attributed to human actions and climate change.

While no official conclusions have been drawn concerning the emaciated dugong, it is evident that marine life faces a significant risk of extinction due to the adverse changes in their habitat’s ecological system, according to Santi Nirawat, director of the Marine and Coastal Resources Research Centre ( Lower Andaman Sea ) at the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources ( DMCR ).

Symptoms of the grass crises in Koh Libong have been obvious since 2019, said Mr Santi.

The DMCR observed popular decay of grass around Koh Libong, in line with the sand release into the ocean that took place to enhance the water’s mouth.

Due to strong issues from local areas, the DMCR recommended halting the action to keep marine life.

Admittedly, no signs of grass treatment were observed after the sand release stopped. Instead, many reports surfaced concerning the ailing seaweed in different areas.

Mr Santi said that 70 % of the 34, 000 ray of grass country in the southern state of Trang suffered serious injury.

The middle observed a change in silt layers, with a greater quantity of gravel overlaying the soil sediment, possibly weakening the seagrass.

Furthermore, he said an uncommon phenomenon affecting high and low tides, with small tides persisting long and shallower, caused the seagrass to dry up due to reduced resistance to extreme sunlight during the daytime. Some specialists reckon the grass has become bad due to fungi, he said.

” Our staff of marine scientists and experts are working to find out the cause of the poor state of the grass so we can employ methods to deal with the problem.

However, all these negative factors have coincided, including the results of climate change, making the situation worse”, he said.

Growing a new seagrass plantation at the damaged site is also not a good option for the time being as the area should be left for a while to recover naturally.

The centre asked for cooperation from locals to leave the area alone as much as possible by not conducting man- made activities such as fishing.

A survey by the centre found only 36 dugongs roaming around Koh Libong and nearby islets and islands, a significant drop from the 194 found last year.

It’s speculated they’ve moved to new areas with more seagrass. The department also noted seagrass deterioration on the Andaman coast in Krabi and Phangnga provinces, while the Gulf of Thailand’s seagrass remains intact.

He said the department has tracked the dugongs ‘ relocation, indicating their new habitat should n’t be far from Koh Libong since their living range is closely tied to seagrass sites. He believes the seas around Krabi and Satun could be where they decide to stay.

According to DMCR, Trang, Krabi and Satun are the country’s most important sites for seagrass, covering about 70 % of an estimated 100, 000 rai of total seagrass in the country. Meanwhile, the number of sea cows is rather small, with about 200 nationwide. A lack of seagrass– its sole food source– has raised a big question on how to prevent their extinction, he said.

Santi: Highlights changes in habitat

Petch Manopawitr, a conservation scientist and also the DMCR’s adviser, said the ill condition of seagrass is sending a strong message to the global community that the world is reaching a tipping point in climate change. An unusual pattern of sea currents has had a strong impact on marine life.

” We may not be able to see the recovery of seagrass in the future. Climate change is n’t a distant concern, it’s causing immediate and profound alterations to marine ecosystems. The loss of seagrass and dugongs is an important piece of the climate change jigsaw”, he said.

He also warned about massive coral reef bleaching, with damages likely similar to the extensive coral reef bleaching in 2010 that destroyed over 90 % of the coral reef in Mu Koh Surin National Park in Phangnga province.

The loss of coral reefs is a huge loss for humanity because it is an important sea barrier to prevent waves from strongly hitting coastal areas, he said.

Without them, the problem of coastal erosion will get worse. To save the coral reefs, he suggested the department prepare necessary measures.

Romtham Khumnurak, Phatthalung representative from the Democrat Party, demanded the government step up action against climate change, saying he did n’t see any substantive measures dealing with the problem even though its impacts are critical to people’s living condition.

He said the loss of seagrass is no longer an issue to be solved by local communities, but should involve all stakeholders and made a national agenda item by the government.

Petch: Humans need coral reefs