On the morning of Aug. 26, residents of Mauritius’s Southeast region discovered several stranded dolphins close to the site of the oil spill from the Japanese vessel MV Wakashio, which ran aground on July 25 causing what some scientists have described as the worst ecological disaster in the Indian Ocean.
Greenpeace has confirmed four dolphins were found dead and says four others are in critical health. Wire agencies reported up to 17 dead dolphins were found and the environmental group fears more marine life could be at risk.
“It is very likely that there are more who have died and we expect more to be found dead and ailing,” said Tal Harris, International Communications Coordinator for Greenpeace Africa. The organization is demanding an urgent investigation to determine the cause of the deaths and any ties to the Wakashio oil spill.
“The dead dolphins had several wounds and blood around their jaws, no trace of oil however,” Jasvin Sok Appadu from Mauritius’ fisheries ministry told Reuters. They have been transported to the Albion Fisheries Research Center for analysis.“The ones that survived, around 10, seemed very fatigued, and could barely swim,” he added.
The environmental conservation group, Globice, says it is too early to say if there is a direct connection between the discoveries and the oil spill. “The precise causes of this stranding cannot be formally established without resorting to autopsies which will make it possible to precisely determine the fatal injuries to the animals.,” it said on their Facebook page. “It is too early at this stage to conclude that there is a direct link with the sinking or scuttling of the Wakashio, which remains a hypothesis to be investigated.”
Environmental scientists note aquatic mammals including dolphins, sperm whales, and porpoises are already under significant threat from a mix of environmental challenges including climate change, plastic pollution, illegal fishing, and habitat loss. Greenpeace says a major oil spill could have long-term impact.
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