The island of Mauritius boasts beautiful beaches, coral reefs, lagoons, and clear waters. Now, oily black sludge mars the country’s southeast coastline.
It began on Thursday when oil began leaking from the Japanese-owned MW Wakashio ship, which ran aground on a southern coral reef on July 25.
“It is the biggest natural disaster to my knowledge that we are having in Mauritius,” said Jacqueline Sauzier, a microbiologist who heads Mauritius Marine Conservation Society.
Reportedly 1,000 tons of oil has leaked into the water so far, endangering nearby protected mangroves and lagoons — home to rich and diverse species.
“The spill has gone into two directions,” said Sauzier. “Into the lagoon of the east coast and down to the coastal zones.”
The spill has mobilized Mauritians across the island, and volunteers and organizations have been racing to contain the spill from spreading further.
Local textile companies have worked alongside the sugar cane industry to create long fabric booms filled with dry sugar cane waste and plastic bottles. They mostly work as a floating sponge to soak up the spilled oil.