It has been more than two weeks, since Mauritius is waking up to a massive flood of social media posts and news articles about the MV Wakashio grounding as well as the black crude spill into our blue lagoons. Lucky enough, the strength of the citizens has been the driving force behind protecting the endemic flora and fauna of this little Island.
However, the damage from the oil spill is manifesting itself faster than we imagined. Just a few days ago, the painful news of the death of several dolphins arrived on our screens. We all knew that crude oil is harmful to our lagoons but seeing this damage occur to such an extent certainly breaks our hearts. Yet, we are all eagerly waiting for the forensic analysis of the sample taken which will confirm if there is a real link or not with the oil spill.
Learn the impacts of oil spilling on the marine ecosystem
In this era of technology and too much information, there is no need to be an expert to know that mixing black crude oil with clear blue water lagoons is not a good combination. Oil is harmful for the marine environment and ecosystem and if actions are not taken rapidly, there will be more damages than there are already.
Jacqueline Sauzier, President of the Mauritius Marine Conservation Society (MMCS) shares her opinions about this crisis situation currently labelled as the worst ecological disaster that Mauritius has ever known.
“It is important to note that the oil dumped into our lagoons is a ‘low-sulfur fuel oil’- a new kind of oil launched in January 2020 which is said to be less impactful than the usual oil used by boats. However, the downside is that profound studies have not yet been conducted on this type of oil and due to this, we do not really know how the situation will evolve and to what extent this would affect our lagoons” entrusts Jacqueline.
A sure fact is that several damages will be caused and below are some of the impacts that we could face according to Jacqueline Sauzier:
Photo Credits: Brady Goorappa
Since the substance that leaked from the MV Wakashio was thick black crude oil, it tends to be very sticky, which prevents marine animals from breathing properly. This stickiness also damages the marine plants such as the corals and mangroves by landing on them and when we try to extract those particles from the plants, although taking great care, they still get damaged.
Photo Credits: Brady Goorappa
A second impact would be the chemical residue from the oil leading to an increase in toxicity level in the lagoons. According to Jacqueline, “Despite the low toxicity levels, its residue starts to accumulate and the aquatic animals in the long run, start to consume this residue which can cause several marine life extinction as we are not sure of how things will be evolving”.
We kept talking about the oil leakage, which certainly has had the most tremendous impact on the marine ecosystem but other causes should not be of exclusion. Did you know that sand particles, as tiny as they are, can be a threat to corals. The shockwave of the MV Wakashio’s grounding led to thousands of tiny sand particles to land on corals which, in the long term, can be disastrous , leading to the destruction of some rare marine life habitat.
Jacqueline furthers explains that due to the grounding, broken corals from the outer reef have been rolled inside with the waves and bad weather, causing an imbalance in water circulation which will clearly lead to a change in the marine ecosystem and a disoriented environment for underwater life. Yet again, the President of the Mauritius Marine Conservation Society insists that in-depth studies have to be carried out to know how things will evolve and to restore the impacted marine habitats to the pristine levels known by throughout the world.
The rare and endemic flora and fauna and the brilliant lagoons found in the Marine ecosystem of Mauritius made underwater exploration incomparable. When an Island, this pristine, is clearly defined by its turquoise reefs and clear waters, one must stand firm on protecting the very essence of their lives. The world is an oyster and we are its pearls. And just like human life matters, sea life matters too.
Let us pledge to save the Marine ecosystem of Mauritius.