These Creatures Are Dying in Droves Ever Since the Russian War Started
Thousands of people are thought to have died as a result of Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine. Scientists believe that the loud noises associated with fighting are to blame for the large numbers of marine creatures that also perish in the Black Sea, right to the south of Ukraine.
According to a report from the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS), there were “more than 600 deaths” in 2022 along the coasts of Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey due to strandings and unintentional catches of dolphins, harbor porpoises, and whales by fishermen over the course of the spring and summer.
Another scientist estimates the number could be much, much higher, per Newsweek and Ukrainska Pravda—up to 50,000, says biologist Ivan Rusev, who oversees Ukraine’s Tuzly Lagoons National Nature Park, in the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa. Erich Hoyt, a research fellow at the UK-based Whale and Dolphin Conservation who corresponded with the ACCOBAMS researchers, tells Insider that the death stat actually totals more than 700 sea creatures
Scientists are closely examining a different possibility, which is that loud noises from war or even Russian ships and submarines could be loud enough to impair the animal’s ability to navigate. Although some of the dolphins that have been found on beaches appeared to have burns or other wounds suggesting they had been caught in bombing or gunfire.
According to Hoyt, who notes that he prefers the louder noises of conflict over those from watercraft, dolphins and porpoises rely on sound to locate, obtain food and communicate with one another. Within a few [miles] range, the noises of explosions at the surface or below “may disorient, hurt, or kill dolphins and porpoises, or cause an increase in strandings or bycatch.
“Unfortunately, the fighting, including floating mines, has made it difficult to obtain additional data to thoroughly investigate what is happening. Regardless of the death toll, it is obvious that the conflict is harming people both at home and abroad. The ACCOBAMS assessment states that “Russia’s war against Ukraine… poses a serious threat to the entire Black Sea basin.”