Mauritius Has Declared a "State of Environmental Emergency" Due to Oil Spill

A Japanese ship named MV Wakashio was carrying nearly 4,000 tons of fuel when it went off course late July and collided into land near Pointe d'Espy.

The ship got stuck on top of a reef on July 25th, and 12 days later the oil tanks began to leak. Most of the oil had been pumped out by that point, but 1,000 tons leaked into the Indian Ocean.

Even though this is one of the smaller oil spills in history, it is Mauritius's most serious ecological threat they have ever faced. The marine area has a rich biodiversity with thousands of species and dozens of endangered and rare plants and animals -- and they are all at great risk.

The reason the ship went off course is still unknown. Police say crew members had told them there was a birthday party on the ship the day it ran aground. Another theory being investigated is that the ship was near shore to pick up Wifi signal. The ship's captain has been arrested and charged with endangering safe navigation.