Turkey’s Black Sea coastline has seen over 100 dolphins washing up dead since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
Sonar emissions from warships and submarines can mess up how dolphins — using their own echolocation clicks — navigate and hunt their prey. Live fire from guns or missiles or naval mines could also have killed them, according to scientists. Pollution from sunken or damaged ships could also be a cause.
The Turkish Marine Research Foundation is warning the war could create a “crisis in biodiversity“:
“Wetlands and biosphere reserves in the Sea of Azov, Danube Delta and Gulf of Odessa are where the biodiversity is most fragile. These regions reside within the migration destinations of birds. Endangering of species that choose these regions for breeding, feeding, migrating and laying eggs where bombings and gunshots occur daily is inevitable. On the other hand, the Gulf of Odessa where tens of military ships reside, maneuver, get set on fire and ballistic missiles drop in is a feeding ground for coastal fish species as well as dolphins. Besides, destruction of endangered red algae (Phyllophora) which provide living grounds for many marine species in this region and decrease rapidly in the Black Sea is a source of concern for biodiversity.”