Using Space To Help With The Mauritius Oil Spill

On July 25, 2020, the Japanese-owned bulk carrier MV Wakashio ran aground on a coral reef off the coast of Mauritius, spilling at least 1,000 tons of oil and endangering some of the world’s most pristine coral reefs and lagoons. Twenty-three days later, the spill continues to threaten the reefs, human well-being and livelihoods, and many rare species along the coast, engulfing UNESCO-designated marine parks and protected mangrove forests alike.

To aid in the ongoing response efforts, several organizations, including Planet, Vulcan Inc., (on behalf of the Allen Coral Atlas), Ursa Space Systems and ICEYE have come together to make significant amounts of geospatial data available, on an emergency basis, to relevant actors involved in ongoing clean-up efforts.

We believe this is the most comprehensive set of geospatial resources related to the spill available. These resources include:

Very-high-resolution (50cm/px) SkySat optical satellite imagery, courtesy of Planet, of the reefs around the southeastern coast of Mauritius, where the spill occurred, collected August 10-17, 2020.
Benthic and geomorphic maps that characterize the shallow reefs in the same area in extensive detail. These were produced as part of the West Indian Ocean Region for the Allen Coral Atlas. Regional maps created are based on a mosaic of Planet’s PlanetScope sensor imagery (approximately 5m/pixel,) acquired over 2018-2020 and regional field observation collected in 2010-2020. More about the advantages and limitations of the Allen Coral Atlas dataset, and its benthic and geomorphic class descriptions, is available here and here.
Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery, provided by ICEYE with analysis by Ursa Space Systems, which indicates the extent of the oil spill. This imagery is roughly 3m/pixel, and was collected from August 11-16, 2020.

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