An injured baby dolphin found drowned in a rock pool off the east coast of Thailand is starting to recover, volunteers caring for him have said.
The young Irrawaddy dolphin was named Paradon, which roughly translates to “brotherly burden”.
Irrawaddy dolphins are dark gray with a characteristic short beak and a domed forehead.
Dolphins are found in the shallow coastal waters of South and Southeast Asia and in three rivers in Myanmar, Cambodia and Indonesia.
They are threatened by habitat loss, pollution and illegal fishing, and are considered a vulnerable species.
Paradon requires round-the-clock care and is cared for by a dozen veterinarians and volunteers at the Rayong Marine and Coastal Resources Research and Development Center, Thailand.
A vet caring for him said: “Normally dolphins found stranded on shore are usually in such terrible condition. The chances of these dolphins surviving are normally very, very slim. But we gave it our best shot. That day. .”
Fishermen found the baby dolphin washed up on shore on July 23. He suffered from an infection and was so weak that he could not swim.
He was placed in a pool filled with seawater and given medical attention, with volunteers taking turns to hold him in the water so he wouldn’t drown.
A volunteer at the center said: “He doesn’t eat enough but just wants to play. I’m afraid he doesn’t get enough food. When you invest your time, physical, mental attention and money to come here to be the volunteer, of course you want him to grow strong and survive.”
Paradon can now swim but remains weak and is still in critical condition.
He doesn’t drink enough milk even though the team tries to feed him every 20 minutes.
Volunteers say it’s hard not to get attached to the little calf, with its round baby face and curved mouth.
Sumana Kajonwattanakul, director of the center, says the baby will need long-term care.
It could take up to a year to wean him off milk and teach him to hunt for his own food.
She said: “If we release him once he’s better, the problem is he won’t be able to get milk. We have to take care of him until he has his teeth, then we have to train him to eat fish, and be part of a group. It will take some time.”
The team hopes that caring for Paradon will help them learn more about his species’ recovery process.
A volunteer said: “If we can save him and he survives, we will learn a lot. Secondly, I think that by saving it, by giving it a chance to live, we are also raising awareness about the conservation of this animal as it is. rare and there aren’t many left.”
Center officials estimate that there are only about 400 Irrawaddy dolphins left on the east coast of Thailand.