At least 40 dolphins have been found dead so far in an area of Mauritius affected by an oil spill from a Japanese boat, officials and witnesses said on Friday, reported Reuters.
Earlier on Friday, Jasvin Sok Appadu from the Mauritius fisheries ministry told Reuters that 38 carcasses had washed up on the beaches so far. He said autopsy results on 25 dolphins that washed ashore Wednesday and Thursday are expected in the coming days.
Only two of the dolphins have been examined by the veterinarians so far who found signs of injury but no trace of hydrocarbons in their bodies, according to preliminary autopsy results. The autopsy on the first two was conducted by the government-run Albion Fisheries Research Centre.
The international environmental organization, Greenpeace, has called out the Mauritius government for an urgent investigation to determine whether the oil spill was killing the marine mammals. The organization said that the dead dolphins had not eaten and were under stress.
Owned by Nagashiki Shipping and operated by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd, the Japanese vessel Wakashio ran aground on a coral reef, Pointe d’Esny, on 25 July, near two marine ecosystems.
The ship began to leak oil on August 6. Later over the weekend, the vessel split into two. The ship was carrying about 4,000 tonnes of fuel oil. 1,000 tonnes spilled into the waters and most of the remaining fuel oil has been recovered. The ship was scuttled on Monday.
The Mauritian authorities arrested both the ship’s officers and charged them with unsafe navigation.
The deaths of the dolphins have added to growing concern that the spill could be disastrous for Mauritius, whose lagoons, lush tropical jungles, and mountains attracted 1.3 million visitors last year. The tiny island nation off Africa’s eastern coast is highly dependent on fishing and tourism. The southeast coast where the oil spill happened is famous for snorkeling, kite surfing, sailing, sea flora, and fauna.