More than 60 dead dolphins on Bulgaria’s northern coast so far in 2022

More than 60 dolphins have been found dead on Bulgaria’s northern Black Sea coast so far this year, according to a report by Nova Televizia.

Separately, in early June, the Green Balkans conservation organisation said that by that point, the regional directorate of the environment ministry in Bourgas on Bulgaria’s southern coast had reported 55 dead dolphins since 2022 began.

Nova reported Professor Violin Raikov of the Institute of Oceanology at the Bulgarian Academy of Science as saying: “We know that there are military actions in Ukraine. It is quite likely that underwater explosions would cause such mass death”.

For now, the theory that the dolphins had been killed intentionally by people was being rejected, the report said.

Raykov said that cetacean morbilivirus was particularly dangerous for dolphins, which could become infected en masse.

Green Balkans said in June that one of the working hypotheses for the deaths of the dolphins found on Bulgaria’s beaches was the war in Ukraine.

“Acoustic exposure from such sources can lead to fatal damage to the dolphins’ auditory organ, which in turn can lead to disorientation, inability to feed and the death of the animal,’ the organisation said.

It said that more data was needed before reaching a conclusion and urged the public to contact it if finding a dead dolphin.

Green Balkans also has appealed to Bulgaria’s military to change its approach regarding exercises in areas where there are high-density populations of dolphins.

It said that exercises held off Shabla, involving the firing of ammunition, coincided with the calving season of dolphins.

“This means that every year during these exercises, huge damage is done to their populations,” Green Balkans said.

As to figures for dolphins found dead on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, no immediate figures were available for 2020 and 2021 to provide a basis for comparison.

However, by mid-July 2019, a total of 38 dolphins had been found dead on the country’s coast, down from 78 in 2018 and 81 in 2017.

There was a peak in 2016, when by mid-year, about 150 dolphins had been found dead on Bulgaria’s coast. Autopsies established that the large number of deaths was the result of an outbreak of cetacean morbilivirus.

(Photo: Dimitar Popov/Green Balkans, via Bulgarian Environment Ministry)

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