Horror as dolphins suffer ‘severe casualties’ in Ukraine war with ‘several thousand’ dead

Ivan Rusev, research director at Ukraine’s Tuzla Estuaries National Nature Park, said in a Facebook post that the marine mammals were washing up on the coastline of the Black Sea bordering several countries, including Ukraine, Bulgaria, Turkey and Romania. Pictures shared by Dr Rusev showed dolphins washed up ashore with what he claims are war-related injuries, including burn marks from bombs.

He said the marine mammals are continuing to wash up on the coastlines with burns from bombs and landmines, as well as internal injuries, along with signs of starvation.

Dr Rusev stated: “I emphasise, once again, that there have been serious casualties of the war among dolphins in the Black Sea in recent weeks.”

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Based on data collected by his team as well as other researchers across Europe, he said “several thousand” dolphins have already died amid the war in Ukraine.

He said: “Analysis of available data collected by us during three months of the war on the coast of our national park, as well as on the materials of fresh open publications from Ukraine, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and based on the personal messages of my foreign friends and colleagues, we assume that due to the cruel and insane war of racists in the Black Sea, from the beginning of the war until now, several thousand dolphins have already died.

“Barbarians kill not only civilised people but smart dolphins.”

With some of the most intense fighting occurring on the southern coast, experts warn that marine and wetland environments along the Black and Azov Seas face a particular threat.

Oleksandr Krasnolutskyi, Ukraine’s deputy minister of environmental protection and natural resources, says: “Almost 400,000 hectares and 14 Ramsar sites [wetlands designated to be of international importance by Unesco] along the coastline and lower reaches of the Dnipro river are under threat.”

There are already estimated to be billions of dollars of damage, he says.

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When Russia first invaded in 2014, annexing Crimea and supporting a separatist war in the Donbas, the Kremlin used another ecologically sensitive area – the Kryva Kosa spit, in the Meotyda national park – as a landing zone for troops, destroying the largest European nesting site for the endangered Pallas’s gull almost overnight.

Dr Rusev has counted more than 200 bombs hitting the lagoons, disturbing water birds such as avocets and Dalmatian pelicans during critical migration and nesting periods.

He said: “Normally, we have between 1,000 and 1,500 white pelicans, which migrate from Africa.

“Now, we only have 300. They are very disturbed by the bombing.”

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Last year, an international team of more than 100 scientists estimated that there could be about a quarter of a million dolphins in the Black Sea, but it is unknown how many of these remain in the region now.

The Turkish marine research foundation had also raised an alarm about the effects of the war on marine ecosystems in the area.

It said in a statement in April: “Due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, biodiversity, marine, food and environmental security are under threat in the Black Sea.”

source: express.co.uk