Oil spills of any type are very catastrophic the but oil spills at sea are generally much more damaging than those on land, since they can spread for hundreds of nautical miles in a thin oil slick which can cover beaches with a thin coating of oil.

The island of Mauritius is currently facing an environmental disaster after oil began leaking from grounded vessel MV WAKASHIO. Mauritius on Thursday announced that oil was leaking from the bulk carrier that had run aground in the south east of the island late July. Fortunately, the ship was moving on ballast at the time but was reported to be carrying 3,894 tonnes of low-sulphur fuel oil, 207 tonnes of diesel and 90 tonnes of lube oil, according to an earlier statement from Mauritius’ Minister of the Environment, Kavi Ramano. The bulk carrier began to breach, releasing some of the bunker fuel. A containment boom is in place to prevent the oil from spreading but all efforts to stabilize the vessel and pump up the oil failed so far due to bad weather conditions.

According to the Ministry of Environment, Mauritius “The public in general, including boat operators and fishers, are requested not to venture on the beach and in the lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg” as Officials have launched an investigation.

Volunteers helping to stop the spread of oil

The MV Wakashio ran aground at Pointe d’Esny, a known sanctuary for rare wildlife. The area also contains wetlands designated as a site of international importance by the Ramsar convention on wetlands and near the marine park of Blue Bay. Ecologists fear the ship could break up, which would cause an even greater leak and damage the island’s coastline.

The country depends crucially on its seas for food and for tourism, boasting some of the finest coral reefs in the world and thus may be massively affected if the spill is not well contained.

The Wakashio is a 203,130 deadweight tonnes bulk carrier measuring 300 meters in length. It is registered in Panama. This vessel was built in 2007 by Universal Shipbuilding in Kawasaki, Japan. It is managed by Okiyo Maritime / Nagashiki Shipping of Japan.

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