Marine Wildlife at Vema Seamount. © Richard Barnden / Greenpeace
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Johannesburg, 28 September 2020 – Last weekend Mauritian media reported that a Forensic Science Laboratory had discovered traces of oil (hydrocarbons) during an autopsy of a pregnant melon-headed whale carcass, conducted to determine the cause of death of 50 whales and dolphins. The Mauritius government states the laboratory hadn’t disclosed its conclusions but does not provide any alternative information. 

Happy Khambule, Greenpeace Africa Senior Climate and Energy Campaign Manager: 

“We will never know if anyone should be held accountable for the death of 50 whales and dolphins if there is no public information. Instead of buying time and placating the public, authorities in Mauritius should gain its trust by disclosing all they know”.

On 24 August, Greenpeace and Mauritian human rights NGO Dis Moi have sent a joint letter to the government of Mauritius, demanding a fully public independent investigation. After no answer was given by Mauritian authorities, a second letter was sent on 14 September.

Vijay Naraidoo, co-director of Dis Moi: “The greatest environmental disaster in our island’s history is being handled with the worst standards of transparency. Authorities in Mauritius do not have the right to remain silent. Instead of rumours, details of autopsies must be made public information, as do all other steps by the Government of Mauritius and the United Nations agencies on the island.”

Two months ago Japanese bulk carrier MV Wakashio ran aground offshore in the south of Mauritius, spilling over 1000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil into the ocean. On 24 August, the front of the Wakashio was deliberately dumped, against the warnings of Greenpeace and others. After the vessel was sunk, 50 whales and dolphins washed up dead along with reports of many others ailing outside the Coral Lagoon of Mauritius. These reports caused unprecedented outrage among Mauritians, yet no information has been disclosed to confirm or refute links between these deaths, the Wakashio oil spill and the dumping of its front. 

ENDS

Photos:

Available here and here with credit.

Contact for interviews and more information:

Tal Harris, Greenpeace Africa International Communications Coordinator, +221-774643195, [email protected]

Greenpeace Africa newsdesk: [email protected]