Dead dolphins that washed up in Mauritius near the site of an oil spill have so far been found to have wounds on their bodies but no trace of oil, preliminary autopsy results released on Thursday said.
Environmentalists are urgently seeking an explanation for the mysterious deaths of 27 dolphins that washed ashore on Wednesday and Thursday, to determine whether they were killed by the spill.
Scientists fear the toxic spill could hurt wildlife for many years on islands that depend on tourism.
So far, veterInarians have examined only two of the dolphins. Authorities say autopsies will be performed on the rest.
“The preliminary results show that the animals did not have trace of hydrocarbon in their respiratory system, nor in their skin, throat or stomach,” the report said.
Both of the dolphins examined so far bore signs of injuries, it said.
The Japanese-owned MV Wakashio, a bulk carrier, ran aground on July 25 and began to spill oil about a week later. The ship was scuttled on Monday.
The autopsy on the first two was conducted by the government-run Albion Fisheries Research Centre.
“The autopsy will be carried out on all other dolphins,” said Jasvin Sok Appadu from the fisheries ministry.
Local environmental group Eco-Sud called for the full autopsy results to be released publicly, while climate watchdog Greenpeace demanded an investigation to determine whether the deaths were linked to the oil spill.
“Everybody here on the island doesn’t trust this [government] report,” said Sunil Dowarkasing, a Mauritian independent consultant who used to work for Greenpeace, told DPA news agency.
Dowarkasing said NGOs should be allowed to conduct their own autopsies.
“There are some pictures … of some of the dolphins with their mouths full of black,” he said, adding the government was trying “to downplay all the impacts of this oil spillage”.