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Thon Thamrongnawasat Raises Alarm on Dugong Crisis in Thailand: The Battle for Seagrass Survival

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Imagine, if you will, the serene beauty of the Andaman Sea, where a creature as enchanting as the mythical mermaid glides through the waters. This is no tale of fiction, but the reality of the dugong, affectionately known as the payoon, spotted in its natural habitat off the picturesque Libong Island in Trang. A drone, in April 2020, captured a snapshot of this marine marvel, offering us a rare glimpse into the life of one of the ocean’s most beguiling residents.

Yet, beneath this tranquil surface lies a brewing storm, a crisis that threatens to erase not just the dugong but the intricate tapestry of marine life itself. At the heart of the matter is the alarming decline of seagrass meadows, the dugong’s main dining fare, a situation that has marine biologists sounding the alarm.

Enter Thon Thamrongnawasat, a name synonymous with marine conservation, and currently a deputy dean at Kasetsart University’s prestigious fisheries faculty. Thon took to Facebook to voice his disconcertment over the dwindling banquet for our seafaring herbivores. “Seagrass is dying off over several thousand rai. So what is left for payoon to eat?” he lamented in a post that reverberated across the digital ether.

In the enchanting waters of Thailand’s Trang and Krabi provinces, about 100 known dugongs call this paradise home. These gentle giants, who each feast on a whopping 15-40 kilograms of seagrass daily, are now facing a dire buffet crisis. Imagine the shock when it was discovered that more than half of Trang’s extensive seagrass beds, spanning at least 10,000 rai, have been dying off in recent months.

Speaking on Mcot radio, Thon expressed concerns that this emerging crisis might be tied to global warming, a spectre that haunts many corners of our planet. Yet the precise villain behind the vanishing seagrass off Trang’s shores remains shrouded in mystery. “We believe it is linked with global warming, which contributes to change in the environment. But we still don’t know exactly what the factors are,” he shared, echoing the sentiments of a community on edge.

Amidst growing concerns, the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources embarked on a mission to the ground zero of this ecological enigma – Trang and Krabi. Their journey included heartfelt discussions with the resilient residents of Libong Island, individuals who have stood at the forefront of dugong conservation for decades. “People there told us they have never seen the seagrass die on such a large scale over the last 40 or 50 years,” Thon recounted, a testament to the gravity of the situation.

The ripple effects of this crisis are now threatening to sweep across Trang to its neighbor, Krabi, heightening the peril for our beloved dugongs and casting a long shadow over their future. With the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources scrambling for solutions, the clock ticks ever louder, a grim reminder of what’s at stake.

It’s a poignant chapter in the saga of the Andaman Sea’s marine life, a wake-up call that beckons us to action. For the dugong, a symbol of nature’s delicate balance, the fight for survival is more than just a battle for food – it’s a quest for existence in a rapidly changing world. Will we rise to the challenge and fight for these gentle giants, or will we stand by as the tides turn against them? The answer lies in our hands.


  1. OceanGuardian101 February 19, 2024

    It’s heartbreaking to see such majestic creatures suffering because of human activities. Climate change is no joke, and it’s high time everyone realizes its impact on marine life.

    • SkepticDave February 19, 2024

      Honestly, how can we be sure it’s due to climate change? There’s always fluctuation in marine environments. Maybe it’s a natural cycle we’re observing.

      • MarineBioMajor February 19, 2024

        Natural cycles don’t explain the rapid decline we’re seeing. The evidence leans heavily towards anthropogenic causes, especially with the rise in global temperatures.

      • OceanGuardian101 February 19, 2024

        Exactly, @MarineBioMajor. The changes we’re seeing are too fast and too drastic to be just ‘natural fluctuations’. The consensus among scientists points towards climate change.

    • EcoWarrior92 February 19, 2024

      We need to protect our oceans! It’s not just about the dugongs. The entire marine ecosystem is at risk if we don’t take action against global warming and pollution. #SaveTheOceans

  2. Joey February 19, 2024

    Sounds like we need more research before jumping to conclusions. Maybe it’s something in the water specifically harming the seagrass?

    • ScienceBuff18 February 19, 2024

      That’s a fair point. While global warming is a serious issue, we should consider all possible factors. Pollution, agricultural runoff, and even boat traffic could contribute to the problem.

  3. Anita Green February 19, 2024

    This is why we need stricter environmental policies and more conservation efforts. If we keep ignoring these signs, we’ll lose not only the dugongs but countless other species.

    • FreeMarketFan February 19, 2024

      Stricter policies mean more regulations and interference in business and people’s lives. We need solutions that don’t stifle economic growth.

      • Anita Green February 19, 2024

        Economic growth at the cost of the planet’s health is not sustainable. We need to find a balance where both the environment and the economy can thrive.

  4. LibongLover February 19, 2024

    As someone who has visited Libong, it’s paradise. The thought of it changing so drastically breaks my heart. We need local and international efforts to combat this crisis.

    • TravelBug88 February 19, 2024

      Visited last year and it was amazing. The locals care deeply about conservation. Hope this crisis can bring more attention and aid to their efforts.

  5. RealistRalph February 19, 2024

    While it’s essential to address climate change, we shouldn’t overlook other potential causes. A comprehensive study on seagrass decline should be prioritized.

    • OptimisticOlivia February 19, 2024

      True, addressing the root cause is crucial. But let’s not use that as an excuse for inaction on climate change. It’s a clear and present danger to our planet.

  6. DugongDefender February 19, 2024

    The situation is dire, but it’s not too late. We can make a difference with concerted conservation efforts and by spreading awareness. #SaveTheDugong

    • SkepticalSally February 19, 2024

      Can individual efforts really make a dent? It feels like we’re up against a tidal wave of environmental issues.

      • DugongDefender February 19, 2024

        Every effort counts. If we all do our part and push for larger systemic changes, we can turn the tide. It’s about building momentum and not losing hope.

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