• Environment: An oil slick reaches the paradisiacal coast of the island of Mauritius
  • Video Environmental catastrophe in Mauritius

At least 17 dolphins have been found dead or dying on the beaches of the southeast coast of Mauritius this Wednesday . The island is the most affected by the ecological disaster caused by the fuel spill from the MV Wakashio ship. "It is undoubtedly due to the toxicity of the water," concluded oceanographer Vassen Kauppaymuthoo , in statements to the local newspaper Le Mauricien.

Neighbors in the Grand-Sable region spotted the carcasses of six dolphins early in the morning on the beach, but saw more bodies floating in the sea. At noon, the authorities assured, according to Reuters, that there are 17 marine mammals without life.

Kauppaymuthoo has indicated that the findings are "only the beginning " of the consequences that the oil dump will leave from the Japanese bulk carrier MV Wakashio, a Panamanian flag, which ran aground on July 25 on the reefs of Pointe-d'Esny, in the southeast of the island. "The toxic products that have polluted the sea are a very powerful poison. It is likely that there are several long-term effects for all marine biodiversity," the marine expert has alleged.

Greenpeace Africa confirmed that four dolphins died and another four are injured, although sources from the organization told EFE that they are being cautious and suspect that the figure is higher . "This is a deeply sad and alarming day for the people of Mauritius and for its unique biodiversity, known and appreciated by the international community," said Happy Khambule , Climate and Energy Campaigns Director for Greenpeace Africa .

The causes

The carcasses of the cetaceans have been taken to the Department of Fisheries to determine the cause of death, but most environmentalists and activists have no doubt that it is from the spill . It is still unknown whether this accident, which is already the worst ecological disaster in the history of Mauritius, was due to mechanical failure or human error, given the proximity to the coast with which this vessel of about 300 meters in length was sailing .

At the time of the accident, the MV Wakashio, which was traveling from China to Brazil, was not carrying cargo, but it is estimated that it was still carrying more than 200 tons of diesel and 3,800 tons of fuel for its own consumption. The ship split in two, raising fears that it would cause an even greater catastrophe. In a device that began on the 19th, two ships dragged the bow of the bulk carrier about 15 kilometers out to sea, to be completely sunk this Monday at about 3,180 meters deep in the Indian Ocean.

The stern of the MV Wakashio, on the other hand, remains beached on the reefs of Pointe-d'Esny. Last week, the Mauritius Police arrested the Indian citizen Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar , captain of the ship, and his deputy, Sri Lankan Tilakara Ratna Suboda, accused of "endangering safe navigation" and who appeared in court yesterday. Both made a formal appearance before the Court of Port-Louis, capital of Mauritius, which decreed preventive detention until next September 1, when they must go to court again.

The area of ​​the spill is a region of coral reefs (which had been rehabilitating for about 15 years), as well as an area rich in marine and terrestrial diversity, with important natural reserves within a few kilometers. This environmental disaster represents a severe blow to the economy of Mauritius, an island of just over a million inhabitants located in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar and highly dependent on tourism.

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