The fishermen fought to save dozens of injured dolphins that washed ashore in Mauritius on Sunday. In recent days, at least 40 of the animals have been found dead in a lagoon near an oil spill from a Japanese bulk carrier that struck a coral reef.
Yasfeer Heenaye, a fisherman near Pointe aux Feuilles on the island’s east coast, said he had counted at least 45 dolphins dead since they were discovered Wednesday and said half a dozen more dolphins were in the bay and around fought their lives.
He said he believed the animals’ eyesight was affected by the spilled oil. So they ended up on the reef, where they suffered fatal injuries.
Authorities, who put the death toll at 42, ruled it out but said on Sunday they are still investigating the cause of death.
“The preliminary autopsy report ruled out that oil was involved. However, we sent some samples of the dead dolphins to Reunion Island to see why the animals couldn’t swim and their radar wasn’t working,” said Jasvin Sok Appadu of the Ministry of Fisheries on Sunday.
So far, according to preliminary results of the autopsy, veterinarians have only examined two of the dead dolphins that showed signs of injury but no traces of hydrocarbons in their bodies. The results of the autopsy of all carcasses are expected on Monday, the official said.
Thousands of protesters marched peacefully in the capital, Port Louis, on Saturday to demand an investigation into the oil spill and dolphin death. Some called for the government to resign.
On Sunday morning, Heenaye was out with seven other boats and made a loud noise by banging metal bars together to drive the animals away from the coral reef towards the open sea.
“If they stay in the lagoon, they will die like the others … we urge them to leave the lagoon so they don’t come into contact with the oil,” he said.
The full effect of the spill is still unfolding, say scientists. The Mauritius Marine Conservation Society said 15 kilometers of coastline were affected by the spill and that it is moving towards the Blue Bay Marine Park, which is home to 38 species of coral and 78 species of fish.
Endangered wildlife includes the endangered pink pigeon, endemic to the island, seaweeds, clown fish and mangrove forests, the roots of which are nurseries for fish.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)