Shattering shots along the Arabat Spit and Sivash Bay in the Sea of Azov between the Ukraine and the Russian-controlled Crimea show a tragic bird that is still alive but has obviously damaged its nervous system
It is feared that a mysterious suspicion of “bird flu” has wiped out thousands of seabirds.
Scientists are urgently investigating the cause of up to 7,000 deaths of black-necked grebes, sea pigeons and gulls.
Disturbing videos show the dead birds along the Arabat Spit and Sivash Bay in the Sea of Azov, which serves as the disputed border of the peninsula annexed by Russia from mainland Ukraine.
Shocking images show a tragic bird that is still alive, but loses its orientation with obvious damage to its nervous system.
“We have recorded bird deaths in great numbers, several thousand,” said Crimean Federal University ecologist Grigory Prokopov.
Experts suspect a viral infection, but locals have also raised the possibility of pollution damage to the seabirds, with reports pointing to excess mercury in the area.
Sergej Malgavko / TASS)
The black-necked grebe, a migratory bird, appears to be worst hit.
Now specialists from the Federal Agency for Animal Health are on site and an analysis of the dead birds is being carried out.
The authorities in Crimea have not yet commented on the suspicion of bird flu on Europe’s southern flank.
One report said the dead birds were “scattered all over Sivash Bay.”
It suggested that an infectious disease is the most likely cause, but it could also be “both poisoning and the environmental situation”.
It added, “An excess of mercury has been found in this area.”
But Mr. Prokopov considers a new avian flu to be the most likely cause.
“Most likely this is not poisoning,” he said.
“The behavior of a bird that I was able to observe clearly showed that it was sick and was dying.
“This is very similar to damage to the central nervous system. Most likely it is some kind of virus.
“But the final conclusion has to be drawn by veterinarians.”