Thousands protest in Mauritius after 40 dolphins died shortly after oil spill

People demonstrates to demand an investigation into 40 dolphins death after the recent oil spill, source: Hans Iyempermall/Reuters
People demonstrates to demand an investigation into 40 dolphins death after the recent oil spill, source: Hans Iyempermall/Reuters

Thousands of protesters demonstrated in the Mauritius capital Port Louis on Saturday to demand an investigation into the recent oil spill and the deaths of at least 40 dolphins. Their bodies were found near the area of the oil spill.

Environmentalists called for an investigation into the deaths. They want to know if the dolphins died because of the spill caused when the Japanese ship MV Wakashio crashed into a coral reef last month.

“We do not trust the government and the diluted information they’ve been feeding us regarding the management and responses to the oil spill,” Fabiola Monty, a Mauritian environmental scientist, told Reuters from the square.

Oil in eyes
Yasfeer Heenaye, a fisherman near Pointe aux Feuilles on the island’s eastern shore, said he had counted at least 45 dead dolphins since they were first discovered on Wednesday. He said that half a dozen more dolphins were in the bay fighting for their lives.

He said he believed the animals’ vision was damaged by the spilled oil, which is how they ended up on the reef where they sustained fatal injuries.

Authorities, who put the death toll at 42, ruled out this is a possibility but said on Sunday they were still investigating the cause of death.

“The preliminary autopsy report has excluded that oil played a role. However, we sent some samples of the dead dolphins to La Reunion to determine why the animals couldn’t swim and their radar wasn’t functioning,” Jasvin Sok Appadu from the Fisheries Ministry said on Sunday.

So far, veterinarians have examined only two dead bodies. The autopsy on these two was conducted by the government-run Albion Fisheries Research Centre.

Local environmental group Eco-Sud, which took part in Saturday’s protest, called for a second opinion from independent specialists. 

Making noise so dolphins swim the other way
On Sunday morning, Heenaye was out with seven other boats, making loud noises by hitting together metal bars in an attempt to drive the animals away from the coral reef towards the open sea.

“If they stay inside the lagoon, they will die like the others. We are pushing them to go outside the lagoon, so they won’t get in touch with the oil,” he said.

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