Aug. 15, 2020

A week after Mauritius declared a national emergency over an oil spill near its coast, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth announced it had been cleaned up.


  • A Japanese ship named M V Wakashio, which is owned by Nagashiki Shipping and operated by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd, 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.

  • Rather than the size of the oil spill, it was the area where it happened which was a cause for concern. 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.

  • Some of the world’s largest oil spills include the Persian Gulf War oil spill of 1991 and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

How dangerous are oil spills?

  • 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 oil spills.

  • Oil destroys the insulating ability of fur-bearing mammals, such as sea otters. It also decreases the water repellency of birds’ feathers, without which they lose their ability to repel cold water.