Thai volunteers nursing injured baby dolphin back to health

Fishermen, veterinarians and volunteers have all joined hands to rescue and nurse a sick and dying baby Irrawaddy dolphin back to health. Dozens of volunteers have been taking turns cradling and feeding the young mammal after he was found ill a month ago.

Irrawaddy dolphins have become increasingly rare. They have been designated a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and fewer than a thousand are believed to remain along the coastlines of Southeast Asia and in a few of its rivers.

In July, a small fishing boat spotted the dolphin calf struggling in a tidal pool on Thailand’s eastern shoreline. They immediately sent words to authorities who called veterinarians from the Marine and Coastal Resources Research and Development Center.  They brought the weak and ill calf to their facility in eastern Rayong province.

“We said among ourselves that the chance of him surviving was quite low, judging from his condition,” Thanaphan Chomchuen, a veterinarian at the center.

“Normally, dolphins found stranded on the shore are usually in a terrible condition. The chances that these dolphins would survive are normally very, very slim. But we gave him our best try on that day.”

They nicknamed him Paradon, which translates to “brother.” Their efforts to care for the calf have certainly been a challenge.

Teams of veterinarians and volunteers have taken turns in eight-hour shifts holding Paradon, so he would not drown, in an indoor seawater pool. The veterinarians said that they have successfully treated the lung infection that made Paradon ill, but he is still too weak to be released into the ocean and will probably require care for one year. They believe that he is between four and six months old.

“If we can save him and he survives, we will have learned so much from this,” said Sumana Kajonwattanakul, Director of the marine center. “We would also raise awareness about the conservation of this species of animal, which are rare and not many left.

Photo courtesy ofกรกฎาคม-2565-ลูกโลมาอิรวดี