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Over 100 Dead Dolphins Wash Ashore on Russia's Black Sea Coast

A dolphin in the Black Sea off the coast of Sochi, a popular resort in Russia. Dmitry Feoktistov / TASS

Nearly 140 dolphins and other marine mammals have washed up dead on the shores of Russia’s Black Sea coast over the past month, the dolphin rescue and research center Delfa said Tuesday.

“A total of 137 cetaceans died in the last month. This is a serious figure,” Delfa wrote on the messaging app Telegram, referring to the group of aquatic mammals that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises. 

“In the last week alone, we recorded 101 dolphin deaths. On March 31, we were informed about 26 deaths,” the rescue center added.

Many of the animals showed signs of having been caught in fishing nets, including deep scratches, missing fins or tails, as well as torn stomachs. Some were entangled in ropes tied around rocks, which Delfa suggested may have been caused by fishermen trying to get rid of their bycatch.

“Of course, fishermen don’t kill dolphins intentionally,” Delfa said, adding: “But this amount is impossible to hide.” 

According to the rescue center, the high number of dolphin deaths may also be linked to the authorities doubling the 2024 fishing quota for flounders in southern Russia’s Caucasus region.

“Flounder nets are the most dangerous for cetaceans,” Delfa said.

“If an alternative isn’t found or the fishing rules aren’t revised, the Black Sea will be left without dolphins,” it warned.

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