Friday 7 August 2020

Mauritian beaches threatened by oil from stricken ship.

Several beaches in Mauritius have been closed to the public after oil was found to be leaking from a ship stranded on a reef off the coast of the island nation. The Panama-registered container-ship MV Wakashio ran aground off the coast of Pointe d'Esny, a Ramsar Convention-registered Wetlands of International Importance, on Sunday 25 July 2020. The crew of the vessel was evacuated successfully, but attempts to pump out the 200 tonnes of diesel and 3800 tonnes of bunker fuel aboard the ship it have failed, and oil has now been found to be leaking from the vessel, prompting local authorities to close off beaches in the Blue Bay, Pointe d'Esny and Mahebourg areas. There are also concerns that if the ship cannot eventually be refloated that it might break up, leading to a much worse environmental crisis.

The MV Wakashio caught on a reef off the coast of Pointe d'Esny, Mauritius. Dev Ramkhelawon/L'Express Maurice/AFP/Getty Images.

Oil spills are potentially harmful to marine life in a variety of ways. Most obviously it can coat the outside of organisms, causing damage to external structures such as the feathers of Birds and fur of Mammals, as well as smothering many marine invertebrates and plants. It also contains a variety of chemicals which can be directly toxic upset the hormonal balance of many animals. Oil also impedes the feeding of marine organisms, coating both food and feeding organs, but provides an excellent food source for Bacteria, which can lead to Eutrophication events - dramatic increases in Bacteria numbers, which then use all the oxygen in the water, leading other organisms to asphyxiate.

The location of Pointe d'Esny on the southeast coast of Mauritius. Google Maps.

See also...

Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.