As dead dolphins wash ashore, Ukraine builds a case of ecocide against Russia

By | August 20, 2023

The New York Times reports:

The victim was found along a stretch of beach near the port city of Odesa in southern Ukraine early this summer, cause of death unknown.

As a light rain fell in the open field where the necropsy would take place, law enforcement officials, a representative of the local prosecutors’ office and civilian witnesses gathered to watch.

On the beach was a harbor porpoise. They are washing up dead in droves on the shores of the Black Sea.

“Dolphins are not only cute creatures,” Pawel Goldin, 44, a doctor in zoology who specializes in marine mammal populations at the Ukrainian Scientific Center of Ecology of the Sea, said before the necropsy. “They are keystone creatures for the marine ecosystem. If dolphins are in a bad condition, then the entire ecosystem will be in a bad condition.”

And the dolphins in the Black Sea are in trouble.

Ukrainian officials say their plight speaks to the savage toll that Russia’s war is taking on marine life and the environment more broadly — something they want to document for prosecution.

Currently, four specific acts — genocide, crimes against humanity, aggression and war crimes — are recognized as international crimes. Ukraine would like to add a fifth — ecocide — and it is setting out to build its case against Russia. The autopsy of the porpoise was part of that effort. [Continue reading…]

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