Russia flexes military might with naval exercises in Mediterranean

Updated 20 January 2013

Russia flexes military might with naval exercises in Mediterranean

MOSCOW: Russia said it started its largest naval exercises in years over the weekend, in war games analysts said would let it flex its military muscle and underline its interest in Syria, where Moscow has a Mediterranean base.
At least eight warships from Russia’s Northern, Baltic and Black Sea fleets were taking part in the maneuvers in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, the defense ministry said.
The announcement did not mention Syria, but Andrei Frolov, a naval expert at Moscow military think-tank CAST, said last week the drill was probably meant to remind the West of Russia’s links to Syria, where it has repeatedly argued against outside intervention in an uprising.
Russia has been Syrian President Bashar Assad’s main foreign protector during a 22-month revolt against his rule and also his biggest arms supplier.
Moscow leases a naval maintenance and supply facility at the Syrian port of Tartous. Two Russian ships heading for the naval exercise picked up munitions on their way to Tartous, news agencies reported on Thursday.
The exercises, which also involved other support craft and long-range aircraft, were the biggest of its kind since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russian officials have said.
They would run until Jan. 29, the defense ministry said in a statement late on Saturday.
The exercise also comes as Russia aims to increase its naval presence, as earlier this month it inaugurated the first of a new class of submarine it will rely upon for decades as a bulwark of its strategic nuclear force.
President Vladimir Putin vowed to rebuild Russia’s sea power after a period of shrinkage following the 1991 Soviet collapse.


Thailand’s lost baby dugong dies from shock, eating plastic

Updated 17 August 2019

Thailand’s lost baby dugong dies from shock, eating plastic

  • Marium, the female baby dugong had already lost her mother when she was initially found
  • Biologists tried saving her, but they believe she died of a combination of the plastic and shock

BANGKOK: An 8-month-old dugong nurtured by marine experts after it was found lost near a beach in southern Thailand has died of what biologists believe was a combination of shock and ingesting plastic waste, officials said Saturday.
The female dugong — a large ocean mammal — was named “Marium” and became a hit in Thailand after images of biologists embracing and feeding her with milk and seagrass spread across social media. Veterinarians and volunteers had set out in canoes to feed Marium up to 15 times a day while also giving her health checks.
Last week, she was found bruised after being chased and supposedly attacked by a male dugong during the mating season, said Jatuporn Buruspat, director-general of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.
She was brought in for treatment in the artificial sea on Libong Island in Krabi province.
“We assume she wandered off too far from her natural habitat and was chased and eventually attacked by another male dugong, or dugongs, as they feel attracted to her,” Jatuporn said Saturday.
An autopsy showed a big amount of plastic waste in her intestine, which could also have played a part in her death as it led to gastritis and blood infection, he said.
“She must have thought these plastics were edible,” Jatuporn said.
The dugong is a species of marine mammal similar to the American manatee and can grow to about 3.4 meters (11 feet) in length. Its conservation status is listed as vulnerable.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-arcpha said Marium’s death saddens the whole nation and the world.
“Her death will remind Thais and people all over the world not to dispose trash into the oceans,” Varawut said at a news conference.