Dead dolphin triggers fear after Bangladesh oil spill

2014-12-14 15:55
Bangladeshi villagers try to collect oil that spread in the river after an oil-tanker carrying 350 000l of furnace oil sank in the Shela River in Mongla. (World Conservation Society, AFP)

Bangladeshi villagers try to collect oil that spread in the river after an oil-tanker carrying 350 000l of furnace oil sank in the Shela River in Mongla. (World Conservation Society, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Dhaka - A dead dolphin has been found in Bangladesh's protected Sundarbans delta following an oil spill which has spread over several hundred square kilometres, heightening fears for the area's rare wildlife.

The Dhaka Tribune newspaper published a photo of the mammal on Sunday, saying it was found floating in a canal off the Shela River where a crashed tanker has leaked thousands of litres of oil.

It was unclear pending an examination whether the oil killed the dolphin.

Officials said the spill now covered up to 350km2 of the vast Sundarbans mangrove delta which straddles India.

"According to latest information, the furnace oil has spread to an estimated 300 to 350km2 area inside the Sundarbans," said a forest department statement late on Saturday, updating an earlier estimate from officials of 80km2.

The tanker collided with another vessel and sank on Tuesday in an area of the Sundarbans set up as a sanctuary for hundreds of endangered Irrawaddy and Ganges river dolphins.

Forest authorities did not immediately blame the spill for the death of the photographed dolphin, reportedly found about 25km from the sunken tanker, saying an autopsy would be conducted.


"We've sent a team of forest rangers to find out about the dead dolphin. We've to conduct a post mortem to know for sure what caused its death," Amir Hossain, chief forest officer of the Sundarbans, told AFP.

Shipping minister Shahjahan Khan has played down the impact of the spill, saying on Saturday there would be "no major damage".

But a senior forest official and other experts have called the accident an ecological "catastrophe".

Some 300 fishermen in 100 boats have been tasked with scooping up the oil using pots, pans and sponges, while villagers were cleaning up the river's banks, the forest department statement said.

"On Saturday, these boats collected 18 000l of spilled oil, which is nearly four times the amount collected by villagers," Hossain also said.

"The manual clean-up process is suitable for this ecosystem. We're already getting results. Our target is to mitigate the damage as much as we can," he added.

A state-run oil company is buying back the collected oil as an incentive to hasten the clean up.

Spread over 10 000km2, the Sundarbans is a Unesco-listed World Heritage Site and the largest wildlife home to famed Bengal tigers.

The delta comprises a network of rivers and canals, where rare aquatic animals including the dolphins and freshwater crocodiles are found.

Read more on:    unesco  |  bangladesh  |  pollution  |  marine life

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.