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Why oil spill in Mauritius was a national emergency?

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The recent oil spill at Mauritius Island & the haven of tourism & was considered a severe environmental disaster. MV Wakashio, a Japanese ship owned by Nagashiki shipping ran around the coral reef, Pointe Esny, leading to spillage of more than 1000 tonnes of fuel oil into the pristine turquoise waters of Indian Ocean.


The oil leak was cleaned up rapidly with joint efforts of volunteers and residents of Mauritius Island. A Japanese team was also sent to assist in the cleanup and revoking the disastrous situation at the earliest. 


Why is this oil spill a severe condition?

While many oil tragedies have occurred in the past, this is one of the greatest catastrophes. Why is it so? Mauritius waters are home to 1700 species. Biological hotspots like Mauritius with diverse flora and fauna are very few and far between. 


The location sets the level of the ecological impact of an oil spill. Though the amount of oil leak is trivial compared to other past incidents, it is the proximity to the reserved ecosystems that makes the Mauritius Oil Spill – a disastrous event.


Ile aux Aigrettes and Port of Mahebourg were the central victims of the oil leak. But over the days, the oil slicks have flowed away to other regions forming a sheen over the waters of Blue May Marine Park and islands like Ile aux Cerfs and Ile aux Margenie.


How does it affect marine biodiversity?

While the oil spillage has been removed to the best of efforts, it is feared that toxic hydrocarbons released during the oil spill will bleach the lively coral reefs -eventually causing death. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the US, nearly a quarter of the fish population depends on healthy coral reefs. 

Mangrove wetlands and sea grasses are feared to face the brunt of the impact, threatening Mauritius & safety from storms and erosion.


The aftermath of the oil spill

The insulating ability of sea mammals is lost due to oil, hence exposing them to the marine environment & brutal conditions. Dolphins and Whales will destroy their lungs by inhaling the oil. Immune function and reproduction are also said to be compromised. Fish eggs and larvae have little to no chances of survival on harsh elements of oil spillage.


Many land birds and animals can also be affected when they clean themselves with oil ridden water, inhaling them and poisoning themselves. The oil will make fish and shellfish unsafe for human consumption.

Almost 40 dolphins have been reported until August 28, 2020, which were found washed up on the shore. The investigation is under the process to confirm if the oil spill was the reason for these numerous deaths. 


It's been almost a month since the tragic incident, and unfortunately, its effects are still unfolding.

Article by,

Meghana Girish

Content expert (trainee)

Treillis Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd

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