As Russia’s war against Ukraine rages on, Ukrainian officials have noticed an uptick in marine mammal deaths — and they want to use it as evidence to accuse Russia of ecocide and environmental war crimes.
That’s according to The New York Times, which reported that there’s been a significant increase in dead dolphins and porpoises washing ashore in the Black Sea.
What’s causing massive dolphin die-offs
The Times reported that a number of factors related to the war could be contributing to marine mammal die-off including maritime mines, pollutants from explosives and fuel leaks, and toxic algae brought about by the presence of pesticides and heavy metals in the water.
The report also said that the cacophony from Russian jet fighters, rocket launches, and explosions could be contributing factors. Noise from ships, sonar, and drilling is known to affect marine mammals’ communication, ability to hear predators and prey, and navigation, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In a peace plan he laid out last November, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy discussed the environmental damage Russia’s war was causing.
“Due to the Russian aggression, 6 million domestic animals died,” he wrote in the plan. “These are official numbers. At least 50,000 dolphins were killed in the Black Sea.”
Currently, there are four acts that are considered international crimes that the International Criminal Court (ICC) oversees: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression. Ukraine proposes to add a fifth act to the list: ecocide.