Why scientists think Russia's war could be killing dolphins in the Black Sea

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Vladimir Putin supposedly advocates for animal rights but his war is doing the opposite. The Turkish Marine Research Foundation said there had been over 80 dolphin deaths in the area since late February. At the same time, there has been an increase in military activities in the northern part of the Black Sea due to the presence of 20 Russian navy vessels.

Why scientists think Russia's war could be killing dolphins in the Black Sea

Scientists believe the recent rise in dolphin deaths in the Black Sea could be a result of the noise pollution caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine.

There has been an increase in military activities in the northern part of the Black Sea due to the presence of 20 Russian navy vessels. The heightened noise caused by the naval ships are driving the dolphins south towards the Turkish and Bulgarian shores, The Guardian reported.

These cetaceans get caught in the fishing nets or stranded in large numbers near the Turkish and Bulgarian shores.

The Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TÜDAV) reported a record increase in the deaths of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) in February off the coast of Turkey.

Based on news and reports, TÜDAV said there had been over 80 dolphin deaths since late February, Turkish press agency Bianet reported.

Dolphin deaths were witnessed are on the western Black Sea coast of Turkey, including Ormanlı, Akpınar, Bosphorus, Alacalı, Şile, Karasu Kilyos, Ağaçlı, Kilyos, Rumeli Lighthouse, Kısırkaya, Sahilköy, Zonguldak and Sinop.

According to initial reports of the association, half of these dolphins got entangled in fishing nets and drowned.

It is still unknown how the other half died as signs of entanglement or gunshot wounds were not found on the carcasses, The Guardian quoted Dr Bayram Öztürk, the Chair of Tudav, as saying. Acoustic trauma could be a reason for the dolphin deaths, Öztürk added.

“We don’t have proof on what low frequency sonar may cause in the Black Sea because we have never seen this many ships, and this much noise for such an extended time, Öztürk said.

Sonar sensors use sound propagation to detect objects such as enemy submarines from great distances underwater.

As marine mammals also communicate using sounds, underwater noise can be dangerous, even fatal, to cetaceans.

Although underwater noise does not directly kill the animal, they may disturb the mammals, forcing them to move to unfamiliar territory in an attempt to avoid it, Dr Pavel Gol’din, a researcher at Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences, told The Guardian.

“It might be the cause of mass migration of fish and cetacean stocks to the south,” he said.

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