The sighting of more dugongs in the Andaman sea off the coast of southern province of Trang is a good sign that the population has increased, the director of Phuket Marine Biological Centre said on Tuesday.
Dr Kongkiart Kittiwatanawong, said the centre was conducting a dugong sighting survey in the Andaman Sea around Koh Libong and Koh Muk from February 28 through to this Tuesday.
The survey was carried out by a two-seater plane piloted by a foreign captain who took along a Thai official for the count.
Each sortie spotted some 60 to 150 dugongs, including repeated encounters of pairs of mothers with babies, he said. He said the sea mammals were easily seen as the water was clear.
The head count is conducted annually to predict the survival trend of the rare species. He added that Trang has the biggest population of dugongs in the country and they live on sea grasses around Koh Libong and Koh Muk.
The aerial survey has been going on for 12 years. Last year, more than 200 dugongs were sighted in the Trang habitat, Kongkiart said.
The Phuket Marine Biological Centre is under the Marine and Coastal Resources Department.