in the Black Sea, dolphins are collateral victims of the war in Ukraine

in the Black Sea, dolphins are collateral victims of the war in Ukraine

On his phone, Ukrainian scientist Ivan Rusev keeps photos of dolphins that have been stranded in recent months. “I have a lothe said, scrolling through them. That’s the end.” A dolphin with no visible injuries or common injuries usually caused by fishing nets.

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In total, at least 5,000 strandings were found on the coasts of Turkish, Romanian, Bulgarian and Ukrainian scientists talking about a number. “awful”. The Black Sea dolphin population is estimated at about 250,000 animals. So the deaths represent almost 2% of the total population of cetaceans in the Black Sea.

These deaths were caused by the heavy military presence in the Black Sea, which became too noisy for the mammals. “Dolphins are very sensitive to sonar, at certain wavelengths”explained the scientist.

“Russian submarines, to navigate, use very powerful sonars. It destroys their inner ear. This acoustic trauma destroys their sense of orientation. Dolphins have no chance to catch fish. “

However, as Ivan Rusev explained, “The dolphins need 25 to 30 kilograms of fish per day. Without these fish, they lose weight, their humanitarian system fails, and the dolphins die of infection.” “It’s so sad that we don’t have the power now to help nature”he was sorry.

“We cannot estimate all the damage”worry Iryna Vykhrystiuk, director of the nature reserve des Limans de Tuzly, covering 28,000 hectares. “After this we will examine them and I think we will be afraid. Nature has a great capacity for change but we have to create conditions for that.”

Iryna Vykhrystiuk and Ivan Rusev in Limans in the Tuzly nature reserve, on the Black Sea coast of Ukraine.  (JULIE PIETRI / RADIO FRANCE)

IThey know it, the message of scientists is hard to hear, in the middle of war, when people are dying and injured every day. But they want to continue to defend their project, which now seems very daring: ccreate, at the end of the war, a large marine protected area, around the island of snakes 50 km away. A valuable place for birds on their migratory route but now above all a strategic military place, conquered by the Russians, then taken by the Ukrainians.

Ukraine: dolphins collateral victims of conflict – Report by Julie Pietri and Arthur Gerbault

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