Dolphins are dying in Significant Numbers after Mauritius Oil Spill
Addis Ababa: Seven more dead dolphins were found on a Mauritius beach on Thursday, a government official said, a day after 17 carcasses were washed up near an oil spill caused by a Japanese ship that struck a coral reef.
“We found seven more dolphins this morning in a state of decomposition,” Jasvin Sok Appadu from the fisheries ministry told Reuters.
Results from an autopsy conducted on the 17 dolphins found on Wednesday are expected on Thursday.
The spill came from the Japanese-owned MV Wakashio, which ran aground on July 25 and began to spill oil about a week later. The ship was scuttled Monday.
Greenpeace called on the government of Mauritius to launch an “urgent investigation to determine the cause of the deaths and any ties to the Wakashio oil spill”.
The full impact of the spill is still unfolding, but scientists have warned of a major ecological disaster, which could impact Mauritius and its tourism-dependent economy for decades.
The MV Wakashio ran aground on coral reef on 25 July at Pointe d'Esny, a known sanctuary for rare wildlife.
The area contains wetlands designated as a site of international importance by the Ramsar convention on wetlands.
Oceanographer Vassen Kauppaymuthoo said the dolphins smelled of fuel.
"In my opinion, this situation will continue to deteriorate as time goes on," he was quoted by local media as saying.
Environmentalist Sunil Dowarkasing said either the oil spill from the bulk carrier or the sinking of its bow last week caused the deaths.
"The scuttling probably disturbed marine mammals in their natural habitat. There will be after-effects, and this is just the beginning," Mr Dowarkasing added.
Greenpeace Africa has warned that "thousands" of animal species are "at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius's economy, food security and health".
But Sudheer Maudhoo, the nation's fisheries minister, said initial tests on the dolphins indicated that there was no link between the oil spill and their deaths.
He noted that there were shark bites on at least two of the mammals but further tests would be needed to identify the cause.