Scientists are worried that the rise in dolphin deaths is due to the Russian-Ukraine war. Since the start of the war, there has been an increase in cetaceans death in the Black Sea. Researchers believe that the heightened noise pollution in the air and water is causing this. Turkey and Bulgaria have also seen an increase in dolphin standings and deaths.
On February 24th, Russia invaded Ukraine, causing chaos on land and ocean. Since then, the rise in ocean life and standings have grown tremendously. This is probably due to higher sonar use in the sea. With more ships and sonar activity, it could be confusing for the dolphin.
Dolphins and other marine mammals have excellent hearing. Low-frequency sonar activity can be deafening and cause them to go in the opposite direction. It has been proven that whales stop foraging after being exposed to sonar noise.
Imagine swimming in the ocean underwater and hearing an eery, high-pitched noise that stops you. You want to move away from that noise as fast and as far as possible. This is what’s happening in our ocean due to the war and increased sonar use. There is mass migration of cetaceans and fish moving away from the noise and entering unknown territory. This can lead them in the wrong direction, getting entangled in fishing nets.
A Bulgarian conservation organization, Green Balkans, also believes that the war is causing a mass migration of fish and dolphins. This year in spring, 50 cetaceans were entangled in over 44 miles of nets. The number is something they didn’t see since the summer of 2019.
In Turkey, scientists have seen an increase in dolphin standings and drownings since late February. At least 80 dolphins were recorded stranded in one month around the Turkish coast.
So what does this mean for our beloved dolphins? If a dolphin is too busy running away from the sound, it will not eat. They can also swim to their deaths by getting caught in fishing nets or stranded on shore. Let’s all hope the war will end soon so we can decrease dolphin deaths again.