Seven dead dolphins have been found on a Mauritius beach, a day after 17 carcasses washed up near an oil spill caused by a tanker that struck a coral reef.
The stranded dolphins were discovered less than 10 miles from the site of the oil spill caused by the Japanese-owned MV Wakashio, which ran aground on July 25 and began to spill oil about a week later.
An estimated 1,000 tonnes of fuel spilled into the area.
Jasvin Sok Appadu from the fisheries ministry said: "We found seven more dolphins this morning in a state of decomposition.”
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".
Sol Appadu said yesterday the 17 dead dolphins “had several wounds and blood around their jaws, no trace of oil however.
“The ones that survived, around ten, seemed very fatigued and could barely swim.”
The dead dolphins have been taken to the Albion Fisheries Research Centre for an autopsy.
A spokeswoman for local Mauritian environmental group Eco-Sud called for the autopsy results to be released publicly and said the group wanted to be present during the autopsy.
The full impact of the spill is still unfolding, but scientists have warned of a major ecological disaster.
The wildlife at risk include the critically endangered Pink Pigeon, endemic to the island, the seagrasses, clownfish and mangrove forests, whose roots serve as nurseries for fish.
The Mauritius Marine Conservation Society said 15 kilometers of coastline have been affected by the spill and it is moving towards the Blue Bay Marine park, home to 38 types of coral and 78 species of fish.
Mauritius’ tourism-dependent economy was already suffering after the country closed its borders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the oil spill threatening even more longer-term harm.
The tanker was scuttled last week in a way that avoided causing further harm to the damaged reef.
Japan’s Nagashiki Shipping managed to recover 2,800 tonnes of heavy oil and about 200 tonnes of light oil as fuel as of July 25 and prevented an already bad situation from becoming much worse.
The ship was travelling on a well-known route when it changed course and ended up hitting the reef.
An investigation into what happened is still underway, two of the ship’s officers have been arrested on charges of endangering safe navigation.