Three humpback whales dead after Madagascar fuel spill

 Madagascar fuel spillSource: M&G website, 16 September 2009
Three humpback whales have been found dead in southern Madagascar three weeks after a wrecked Turkish freighter began tipping fuel into the sea, contaminating the coastline, a newspaper on the Indian Ocean island reported Wednesday.
Les Nouvelles daily reported that two migrating humpback whales were found dead on a beach 45 kilometres east of the southern tip of Faux Cap. The paper said the two mammals brought the number of dead humpback whales to three, without giving details on the first dead whale.

It was near Faux Cap that a fire broke out on August 26 on the MS Gulser Ana, which was en route to India with a cargo of 39,000 tonnes of phosphates. The 23-strong crew of the 189-metre long, 30-metre- wide ship, which was also carrying tons of diesel and oil, were rescued unharmed.

The fuel spill polluted several kilometres of coastline in an area renowned for its biodiversity and rich coral reefs.

Two ships are trying to pump the diesel out of the ship, which has nearly completely sunk. An operation to clean up the blackened beaches is also underway.

Humpback whales pass by southern Madagascar at this time of year on their way to their breeding grounds in Reunion island.

Shortly after the accident, several distressed whales had been seen trying to expel blackened water through their blowholes.

Les Nouvelles said traces of oil were found on the bodies of the dead whales found 45 kilometres east of Faux Cap. Blood and tissue samples were being flown to a laboratory in the capital Antananarivo for tests.

The government has renewed its appeal to people living in the Faux Cap area, where most rely on fish for an income and food, not to eat any dead fish or seafood.

The government has also temporarily suspended all fishing in the area.

Source: M&G website, 16 September 2009

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