Coast KZN

26 Aug 2020

18 whales die in Mauritius stranding – but its govt denies link to massive oil spill

( Picture: Eighteen whales washed up on the shores of Mauritius. 

Eighteen melon-headed whales washed up on the shores of Mauritius on Wednesday, the country’s fisheries minister said, dismissing any link to a devastating oil spill earlier this month. The whales, some of which were still alive when they were found and later died, were stranded on the south-eastern beaches of Grand Sable, and some of them had injuries.

Fisheries minister Sudheer Maudhoo told a press conference that all 18 of the whales, a member of the dolphin family, had died, but that there was “no trace of hydrocarbons on them or in their respiratory system”. An autopsy of the animals was being carried out on Wednesday evening.

Local government official Preetam Daumoo told AFP that he, like many residents who found the bodies, feared the stranding was a result of the island’s recent oil spill.


Earlier this month a Japanese-owned bulk carrier ran aground on a coral reef around 10 kilometres from Grand Sable, spilling over 1 000 tons of fuel into the pristine waters. The broken stern of the vessel was sunk in the open ocean on Monday.

However experts said it was too soon to say what had caused the deaths of the animals. Owen Griffiths of the Mauritius Marine Conservation Society told AFP “it is probably a very unfortunate coincidence”, referring to a similar stranding in 2005 when 70 melon-headed whales stranded in the same area.