Sudheer Maudhoo: A “sad coincidence” led to more than 39 dead dolphins
After an oil spill from a grounded Japanese ship, hundreds of people are protesting in the capital of Mauritius over the government’s handling of the accident which caused an alarming discovery of dozens of dead dolphins in recent days.
The ship began leaking fuel into the Mahebourg Lagoon on August 6, fouling a protected wetlands area and a small island that was a bird and wildlife sanctuary.
On Friday, authorities said at least 39 dead dolphins washed ashore but it is not yet clear what killed them. Some experts fear the chemicals in the fuel are to blame.
Meanwhile, The country’s fisheries minister, Sudheer Maudhoo, told reporters some dead dolphins had injuries but he denied reports that oil had been found inside them and called their deaths a “sad coincidence”.
Other dolphins may have died out at sea, environmental consultant Sunil Dowarkasing said on Friday.
Thousands of residents were expected to attend the march through Port Louis a month after the ship struck a coral reef offshore and later cracked and spilled approximately 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil into fragile marine areas.
The protesters waved the country’s flag on Saturday and held up signs with messages such as: “You have no shame.”
Residents and environmentalists have demanded investigations into why the ship strayed miles off course. Its captain and first officer have been arrested and charged with “endangering safe navigation”.
On the other hand, thousands of civilian volunteers worked for days to try to minimise the damage, creating makeshift oil barriers by stuffing fabric bags with sugar cane leaves and empty plastic bottles to keep them afloat.
Environmental workers carefully ferried dozens of baby tortoises and rare plants to shore, plucking some trapped seabirds out of the goo.
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