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Black Sea dolphins dying on a massive scale, possibly because of war – NYT

Several thousand dead dolphins have been washed up on the coasts of Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine. Scientists believe their deaths could have been caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, writes The New York Times.

According to scientists, the hostilities along Ukraine’s coastline have already done immense damage to the environment and interfered with dolphins’ habitat. The animals are also at risk because of the bombs dropped in coastal feeding areas, oil from sunken warships and river runoff polluted by chemicals used in ammunition. These assumptions have been confirmed by recent studies conducted in Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Turkey.

Ivan Rusev, an environmental scientist at Ukraine’s Tuzla Estuaries National Nature Park, told the NYT that dolphins were also affected by the noise produced by warships and the use of powerful sonar systems. The sounds disorient dolphins, who navigate by hearing.

“Some of the dolphins had burns from bomb or mine explosions and they could no longer navigate and of course could not look for food,” he said.

In March, the Turkish Marine Research Foundation already reported an increased number of dead dolphins washed ashore. “Along with marine pollution, ship noise and low frequency sonars are known to be a serious threat to the marine species, especially to dolphins, which utilize underwater sounds actively to feed and navigate,” the Turkish researchers said, emphasizing the disastrous impact of the war on marine biodiversity.

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