Mauritians donate hair to mop up leaking oil from grounded ship
September 26, 2020

Mauritians use hair, leaves to mop up leaking oil from grounded ship

NAIROBI (KENYA) – People in Mauritius are resorting to floating booms of human hair and leaves in a bid to mop up oil which is leaking from a grounded Japanese vessel onto their beaches.

Oil from the MV Wakashio, owned by the Nagashiki Shipping Company and operated by Mitsui OSK Line, began leaking into the pristine waters last week after the ship hit a reef off the island.

The island nation has declared a state of emergency and its former colonial ruler France has sent aid. Greenpeace has said that the oil spill could be a major ecological disaster.

Romina Tello, 30, who is the founder of eco-tourism agency Mauritius Conscious, spent the weekend cleaning the black sludge from the mangroves. She said citizens were making booms to float on the sea using sugarcane leaves, plastic bottles and hair donated by people.

“Hair absorbs oil but not water,” Tello said. “There’s been a big campaign around the island to get the hair.”

The cleanup effort involves diving centres, fishermen and others. While hair salons are offering discounts to those donating hair, others are providing sandwiches to volunteers and guesthouses have come up with free accommodation for those taking part in the mission.

The oil spill is near the Blue Bay Marine Park, which is renowned for its corals and eye-catching variety of marine organisms.

“It is really moving – everyone is doing what we can. It breaks our hearts to see the damage,” Tello said.

(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field

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