Russia-Ukraine war has killed 'several thousand dolphins' and harmed the marine ecosystem - scientists

Business Insider US
A dolphin is seen in the Black Sea, Lazurne urban-type settlement, Kherson Region, southern Ukraine (September 22, 2020)
  • Scientists who study the Black Sea warn that dolphins are being killed in the Russia-Ukraine war. 
  • One Ukrainian ecologist has said that "several thousands of dolphins have already died."
  • The Turkish Marine Research Foundation has said the war is causing a "crisis in biodiversity."
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Scientists are reporting many dolphin deaths, with Putin's invasion of Ukraine blamed for the spike. 

Dolphins are washing up on the coastline of the Black Sea (which borders Ukraine, Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Romania, and Moldova), showing war-related injuries, including burn marks from bombs. 

Ivan Rusev, research director at Ukraine's Tuzla Estuaries National Nature Park, has been documenting the 101 days of the war on his Facebook page, using his platform to raise awareness of the ecological effects of the invasion. 

Writing on Facebook, Rusev explains how dolphins are washing up on shore with burns from bombs and landmines, internal injuries, and showing signs of not eating for days.  

The ecologist states that the data collected by him and his team and other researchers around Europe show that "several thousand dolphins have already died."

"Barbarians kill not only civilized people but smart dolphins," Rusev wrote on Facebook. 

Also raising the alarm on the mounting dolphin death toll is the Turkish Marine Research Foundation, which reported that the war is having "devastating effects" on the marine environment. 

In a press release, the research foundation outlined the "crisis in biodiversity" caused by the war. It included the destruction of endangered red algae (which acts as a "living ground" for many marine species) and feeding grounds for fish — including dolphins — transformed into a maritime war zone.

It also highlighted the danger of oil and gas leaking into the sea from sunken military ships. 

Before the war, 100 scientists from a Conservation group for the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and contiguous Atlantic Sea surveyed marine life to determine the number of dolphins within these areas. 

Their study found that over 253,000 healthy dolphins lived in the Black Sea, the New York Times reports, with this being a sign of a well-functioning ecological system. 

With the war raging on and tampering efforts for data collection, it is unknown precisely how many of these quarter of a million dolphins will survive. 

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