Sri Lankan government officials said the bodies of more than 10 turtles, a dolphin, fish and birds washed up on the country’s beaches after the container ship X-Press Pearl burned.
In a statement released on Sunday, officials from the Department of Wildlife Conservation said an investigation was underway to determine the cause of death of these marine species, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The dead sea creatures were found on the beaches from Puttalam in the northwest to Mirissa in the south.
Two injured turtles were also found on Unawatuna beach in the south, media reported.
“The shells of most of the turtles found dead on the beaches off Panadura and Wellawatte have been shattered. A dead turtle on Unawatuna beach has been found injured,” an official involved in the investigation told the local newspaper Daily Mirror.
A link between the death of marine life and the fire at the X-Press Pearl container ship should be the focus of the investigation.
The Singapore-flagged vessel was carrying 1,486 containers containing 25 tonnes of nitric acid and several other chemicals and cosmetics when it arrived from India on May 15.
It made a distress call while in the vicinity of the Colombo port on May 20 and quickly caught fire, forcing the Sri Lankan navy to send in ships in an attempt to fight the blaze. on board.
Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority said the ship’s fire caused a massive environmental disaster, with many beaches damaged by debris washing up on the shore.
The government said large numbers of marine animals have been killed because of the pollution caused by the blaze, while the fisheries department has imposed a temporary ban on fishing from the south coast to the west coast.
A criminal investigation is currently underway into the cause of the fire aboard the vessel X-Press Pearl.
Earlier Sunday, police said investigators had received the ship’s voyage data recorder which contains all communication dialogs between the captain, the ship’s parent company and the local shipping agent.
The navy said no oil spill was detected from the burnt out vessel, which was about 18.52 km from Colombo port.