The war in Ukraine and the protection of Antarctica and dolphins in the Black Sea

Delegations from Russia, Ukraine, China, the US and the EU, among others, met in Australia to decide about  the future of Antarctic waters. According to environmentalists, new marine protected areas and regulations to prevent overfishing need to be established. However, Russia may use its veto power to block these initiatives again, not least because of the ongoing war in Ukraine – in October this year, Russian bombs dropped on Kiev partially destroyed Ukraine’s National Antarctic Research Centre. The war in Ukraine is also the subject of one of the  latest episodes of the Outriders podcast.

According to Ivan Rusev, an employee of Ukraine’s Limans Tuzlovsky National Nature Park, up to 50,000 Black Sea dolphins may have died  during the war in Ukraine. The reason for this is the activities of Russian ships, including submarines. The noise they emit can disorientate dolphins and other sea creatures, which can get lost in the sea, hit a mine or suffer hearing damage as a result. Marine life is also harmed by water pollution. According to Rusev, about 5% of all dead animals are washed ashore, while the remaining 95% sink to the bottom of the sea.

For more than 40 years, a group of New England scientists have been tracking hundreds of critically endangered Biscayan cetaceans. Millions of photos from the sky and sea have been taken of entire families – mothers, children, siblings, cousins and grandparents, often tracked from birth. The population of these mammals in the North Atlantic has declined to levels not seen since around 2001. This is largely due to climate change and human-caused mortalities. In 2021, there were around 340 whales, while in 2010 there were almost 500.

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