Environment group warns of marine mammal deaths

Corfu-based environmental group Archipelagos on Tuesday published a report warning of a large number of dead marine mammals and fish washed up on the coasts of the islands of the Ionian, Kathimerini has learned, following the alarming finding earlier this month of at least 10 dead whales on the coast of Corfu.

The report cited additional findings of dead sea turtles, hundreds of fish, more washed-up carcasses of large marine mammals such as the beaked whales and the disappearance of one Mediterranean monk seal from the Corfu coast, while also quoting fishermen who have noted a significant drop in fish populations throughout the western Greece coastal zone, from the western coast of Messinia in the south to the northern Ionian.

Samples taken by scientists working for Archipelagos from the dead beaked whales are being examined to determined what killed them, including high levels of toxicity and heavy metals, or disease.

“This is without doubt a very painful event, which is taking place in the closed sea of the Mediterranean and which is of great concern to us and should alarm the scientific community and the authorities, given that the cause of death may be related — either directly or indirectly — to human activity,» the group said in its report.

Meanwhile, the Fisheries Department of the Region of the Ionian Islands has been conducting its own investigation into declining populations of marine life in the area, citing a combination of factors that may have contributed to the phenomenon, including explorations for hydrocarbons, which use seismic waves similar to sonar that can affect regular neurological function in marine life, lax pollution controls in countries along the Adratic and Ionian, and the possibility of a disease epidemic.

Its report, drafted by the head of the Fisheries Department Stamatis Ginis and hydrobiologist Savvina Gioni, also cited findings by Italian environmental group Legambiente suggesting that organized crime syndicates in Italy have been illegally dumping toxic waste into the Adriatic and Ionian seas for over a decade.

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