How is the Mauritius oil spill threatening sea life
A small island nation of Mauritius had to declare an emergency because its beaches and related sea life was in danger.
On July 25, a Japanese ship named M V Wakashio 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.
The crew members managed to pump around 3,000 tonnes of fuel off the carrier before it split in two later, preventing a much larger environmental catastrophe.
The larger of the two pieces of the Wakashio would be put out into the open ocean where it is to be sunk. The part containing the engine room remains wedged on the coral reef.
More than the amount of spill, it is the place which is more important in this case. The accident had taken place near two environmentally protected marine ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park Reserve, which is a wetland of international importance.
Oil spills affect marine life by exposing them to harsh elements and destroying their sources of food and habitat. Further, both birds and mammals can die from hypothermia as a result of oil spills.
How to clean oil spills
A lot of volunteers have come forward to contain the spill. There are a few ways to clean up oil spills like skimming, in situ burning and by releasing chemical dispersants. Skimming involves removing oil from the sea surface before it is able to reach the sensitive areas along the coastline. In situ burning means burning a particular patch of oil after it has concentrated in one area.
Releasing chemical dispersants helps break down oil into smaller droplets, making it easier for microbes to consume, and further break it down into less harmful compounds.
The ship is owned by Nagashiki Shipping and operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, and now his captain who is an Indian, Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar, and his deputy a Sri Lankan national, have been arrested for negligence and piracy.