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Turtle deaths tripled since MT New Diamond

2 years ago

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  • 25 Turtle deaths in 2021: Wildlife Conservation Department

By Pamodi Waravita   The Wildlife Conservation Department’s (DWC) Attidiya Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre informed that following the maritime disaster involving the MT New Diamond ship last year, the number of reported deaths of turtles has increased by over three-fold the usual annual average. “In a usual year, we record only about five turtle deaths on our shores for the entire year, excluding the deaths of baby turtles. In 2020, we recorded only three deaths before the MT New Diamond fire. Following the fire, there were 15 deaths recorded. This year, so far, over 25 turtle deaths have been reported from around the country,” veterinary surgeon attached to the DWC Dr. Suhada Jayawardena told The Morning. While the necropsies have been conducted on the bodies of several animals that have washed up on the shores, Dr. Jayawardena said that samples have been sent to Government labs to conclusively determine if there is any direct link between the MV X-Press Pearl disaster and the animal deaths. Dr. Jayawardena added that although Olive Ridley sea turtles are the most common type of marine turtle species found on the Western coastline, reports currently indicate that other species are also washing up ashore, dead. The nesting season for turtles on the Western coastline is towards the end of the year. Dr. Jayawardena said that as of yet, they do not foresee any serious adverse effects from the wreck off of the Colombo Harbour with regard to the nesting season. The MV X-Press Pearl ship caught fire on 20 May, approximately nine nautical miles away from the Colombo Harbour, and a subsequent explosion on 24 May led to the fire spreading and a number of containers aboard it falling into the sea, thus releasing pollutants including plastic pellets into the water. Since then, debris and deceased marine life have washed up on the country’s Western coastline, seriously damaging both the fisheries industry and the country’s marine environment. Last year, the MT New Diamond, a large crude oil carrier, also caught fire off of the Eastern coast of Sri Lanka.  

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