WARNING - CONFRONTING IMAGES: Twenty-seven dolphins have washed up dead after an oil spill decimated the beaches of a once pristine island.
The deaths come after the Japanese-owned MV Wakashio ran into a reef close to the coastline, leaking 1000 tonnes of oil leaked into the ocean.
Clean-up operations have largely been undertaken by Mauritian volunteers who have been seen scooping handfuls of oil into large barrels.
While preliminary autopsy results on two dolphins released by the government on Thursday showed no trace of oil, environmentalists are urging for the remaining animals to be tested.
Ecological strategist Sunil Mokshanand Dowarkasing spoke to Yahoo News Australia from Mauritius, questioning how authorities can suggest the deaths and the oil leak are a “pure coincidence”.
Mr Dowarkasing, who has been a critic of the government’s response to the emerging crisis, has filed an online petition urging the governments of Mauritius and Japan to fund an independent inquiry, garnering almost 120,000 signatures.
Mr Dowarkasing is calling for the remaining animals to be urgently tested, saying locals are concerned by the environmental devastation facing their homeland.
“All the people in that region are just mentioning that they have never seen anything like that before,” Mr Dowarkasing said.
“This is this number is what we know, this number is (just) the dolphins that have reached the coast.
“There could be more than which haven’t come to the coast, which has been drifted away by the currents to the high seas, or which might might have been eaten by sharks as well.
“So, we don’t know, but the strict number we can say is 27.”
After eight dead and dying dolphins were found dead on Wednesday, Greenpeace called the discovery “deeply sad and alarming”.
They have called on the Mauritian government to show greater transparency and accountability as they investigate the spill.
The autopsy on the first two dolphins was conducted by the government-run Albion Fisheries Research Centre.
"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.
Jasvin Sok Appadu from the fisheries ministry said autopsies will be carried out on all other dolphins.
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