Marium, an orphaned baby dugong who became a beloved conservation symbol after photographs of her nuzzling human caretakers went viral earlier this year, has died.
An autopsy found “eight pieces of waste plastic bags packed together,” as well as “small plastic fragments,” in Marium’s intestines. Per the Washington Post’s Morgan Krakow, this plastic pollution triggered intestinal inflammation, which in turn led to gastritis, a blood infection and pus in the lungs. As the infection spread, the animal went into shock and eventually died.
Marium likely ingested the plastic under the erroneous impression that it was edible, Jatuporn explained. In lieu of the news, Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation urged the public to be more cognizant of the amount of garbage accumulating in the world’s oceans.