A week ago we discussed a controversy which erupted in Brazil when around 60 bathers on Turtle Beach in the beautiful resort town of Buzios became ill. Government officials suspected that a cruise ship discharged noxious liquids and waste into the waters.
A newspaper in Brazil, Globo, covered the story and posted aerial photographs of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship with discolored water around it. It looked to me that the muddy-looking water was probably sand and silt which had been churned up by the vessel's engines. We posted the photos on line. The issue nonetheless remained what made the bathers at the beach so sick?
Brazil took samples of the contaminated water at the beach, as well as samples from several cruise ships in the area. The test results were inconclusive. The cruise association in Brazil denies that any of the cruise ships discharged anything and maintains that all ships comply with international maritime standards addressing the discharge of waste water.
The controversy reported in the press has led to at least one cruise passenger coming forward to claim that other cruise ships may be fouling the waters in Brazil.
Globo reports that cruise passenger Jesus Alcinir, age 50, from Panama, was sailing on the MSC Orchestra with his family last November to Buzios. He observed what he believed was a nasty looking and terribly smelling liquid that seemed to leave the ship. He took a photograph which you can see below.
He told Globo: "I was watching the sea. That transparent color, that blue sea with green, when out of nowhere this spot that seemed to come out of our ship emerged. The smell was very strong at the time and I was upset to hear that it could be some fluid that would be polluting the environment."
A crew member said that because the ship just stopped and lowered an anchor, silt would have been disrupted and muddied the water.
Passenger Alcinar was unconvinced, particularly because of the strong smell.
I suppose that the smell could have been from the muck and perhaps decomposing organic material like seaweed. I would also think that if the cruise ship was going to illegally open its bilges, it would do so at night while the ship was underway.
No samples were taken of the water.
Being accused of discharging waste in Brazilian waters in the last thing that MSC needs. Last December we posted a video of MSC crew members seemingly throwing garbage bags in the water near a marine sanctuary in Brazil.
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Photo Credit: Jesus Alcinir via Globo