“Sea mammals will suffer long term effects”-BY MANJULA FERNANDO
Environment Ministry Secretary Dr. Anil Jasinghe said the deaths of marine creatures, whose carcasses have ended up on shores is believed to be due to the inferno on board the toxin laden merchant vessel X-Press Pearl. His comments put to rest a heated social media debate whether the sea creatures died due to other reasons.
In addition to the high-water temperature, marine life would have suffered burns due to the hazardous chemicals which had leaked into the sea from the damaged containers on board, Dr. Jasinghe said.
Over 30 sea animals including turtles, dolphins and a large fish was washed ashore within days after the blaze, which lasted for over ten days and gutted the container ship completely.
State Minister Dr. Nalaka Godahewa said it was premature to say anything for certain since the postmortem findings on the dead animals are yet to be known. He said tests will be conducted on the large fish that had come ashore in Kytes island to find out if the death is connected to the ship disaster.
Reputed Environmental Lawyer Jagath Gunawardena said “We are yet to see the long-term effects of the tragedy, especially the influence of chemical substances that may have entered the digestive systems of the sea animals”.
“The toxins will affect the internal organs of the sea mammals, especially their digestive system, kidneys and lungs,” he said.
Airing frustration over some of the academics who try to downplay the disaster, he said in a tragedy like this it was safer to prepare for the worst case scenario than have a false sense of complacency. Gunawardena said that the tragedy would leave a lasting impact on the marine ecosystem and the nesting sites of the sea turtles.