Mauritius oil spill: Seabirds covered in oil, dead eels and fish found during clean-up ops

Updated: 15 August, 2020 08:58 IST | Sherlin Rajan
  • Mauritius oil spill

    Mauritius is going through one of its worst environmental crisis after Japanese ship, MV Wakashio, ran aground on a coral reef about a mile off Mauritius on July 25, and prolonged pounding by heavy surf caused the vessel to crack about two weeks later.

    In picture: Volunteers prepare to place handmade oil barriers in the sea at the Mahebourg waterfront in Mauritius, in order to prevent further oil spill from the MV Wakashio vessel.

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  • Mauritius oil spill

    The cargo vessel spilt struck a coral reef resulting in an oil spill of over 1,000 tonnes into the Indian Ocean. The ship was carrying an estimated 4,000 tonnes of oil.

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    Some of the turquoise waters surrounding Mauritius were stained muddy black, fouling mangrove wetlands and drenching waterbirds and reptiles with sticky oil.

    In picture: A Mauritius Army personnel stands next to the handmade oil barrier trapping leaked oil from the MV Wakashio bulk carrier that had run aground at the beach in Mahebourg, southeast Mauritius.

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  • Mauritius oil spill

    Thousands of Mauritians have been working for days to reduce the damage by making improvised booms from fabric and stuffed with straw and sugar cane leaves to try to contain the oil's spread. Others have scooped up oil from the shallow waters. Of the 1,000 tonnes of oil that seeped from the ship, about 460 tonnes had been scooped out of the ocean, said the statement.

    In picture: Volunteers make handmade oil barriers at the Mahebourg waterfront in Mauritius in order to prevent further oil spill from the MV Wakashio.

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  • Mauritius oil spill

    As of August 13, nearly all the 3,000 tonnes of fuel left on the MV Wakashio has been emptied from the vessel stranded on a coral reef at Pointe d'Esny, a sanctuary for rare wildlife, the shipowners said.

    In picture: A man scoops leaked oil from vessel MV Wakashio, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius.

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  • Mauritius oil spill

    Owner Nagashiki Shipping said in a statement that 'residual' amounts of fuel remain on the ship. The company has sent experts to help in cleaning up the damage. “We will continue to do our utmost to minimize the impact of oil spill recovery and environmental pollution,” said representative director Kiyoaki Nagashiki.

    In picture: Workers look on from a ship near vessel MV Wakashio.

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  • Mauritius oil spill

    Widening cracks in the ship's hull show that it might break up, but with little fuel remaining, further environmental damage is expected to be limited. "Since this ship is unable to navigate by itself, a tow connection has been established between a tug and the Wakashio, in order to secure the vessel so that it will not drift,” the statement said. 

    In picture: The vessel MV Wakashio that ran aground.

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    According to the environmental activists, the oil spill threatens 35 years of work to restore the area.

    In picture: A fisherman places handmade oil barriers into the sea at the Old Grand Port in Mauritius to block leaked oil.

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  • Mauritius oil spill

    Environmental consultant and former member of the parliament Sunil Dowarakasing was quoted by AP as saying that the ship ran aground on July 25 but work to remove the oil started last week when the hull cracked and started emptying the fuel into the sea. 

    In picture: Volunteers carrying the handmade oil barrier to block leaked oil.

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  • Mauritius oil spill

    Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said his government has been working with the ship's owners to try to prevent any further spillage. He thanked the thousands of volunteers who have been working to contain the spread of the oil and to cleaning the shores.

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  • Mauritius oil spill

    The Prime Minister also said that the government will seek compensation for the extensive environmental damage from the ship owners and declared the oil spill a national disaster.

    In picture: Volunteers collect leaked oil from the MV Wakashio bulk carrier.

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    France sent a naval ship, military aircraft and technical advisers from the nearby island of Reunion after Mauritius appealed for help last week. Japanese experts have arrived on the island and have been assisting. The United Nations is expected to send experts.

    In picture: An aerial view shows people scooping leaked oil from the MV Wakashio bulk carrier.

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    Pravind Jugnauth's government is under pressure to explain why it did not take immediate action to avert the environmental disaster.

    In picture: A handmade oil barrier is seen in the water at the Mahébourg waterfront in Mauritius.

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    Even as Jugnauth has declared the oil spill a national emergency, some residents say he acted too late.

    In picture: Fishermen and skippers tend to a makeshift oil extraction device at the Mahebourg waterfront in Mauritius.

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    The opposition and activists are calling for the resignation of the environment and fisheries ministers. 

    In picture: An aerial view shows a large patch of leaked oil and the vessel MV Wakashio.

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About The Gallery

The oil spill on the Mauritian coast has caused severe damage to the pristine coast of the island country and its coral reef. The island's residents are seeing dead eels and fish floating in the water, as fuel-soaked seabirds limp onto shore. A Japanese ship MV Wakashio ran aground on July 25. The ship was carrying 4,000 tonnes of fuel oil and one of its oil tanks, containing about 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil, ruptured, fouling the coastline of Mauritius. Mauritian PM Pravind Jugnauth has declared the oil spill a national emergency, but some residents say he acted too late. (Pictures/AFP)

First Published: 15 August, 2020 08:00 IST