The Russian tanker that broke in two in the Black Sea is killing dolphins, Russia’s environment watchdog has said.

Oleg Mitvol, deputy head of state environment watchdog Rosprirodnadzor, said the oil had polluted a 50-km (30-mile) long stretch of Black Sea coastline and rescue workers would have to remove 10,000 tonnes of oily sludge from the shore.

Mitvol said around 1,500 tonnes of fuel oil was still afloat in the water, killing thousands of birds and fish. “Unfortunately, not only fish are affected, but sea mammals as well — we have documented cases of deaths of dolphins,” he told a news conference. “The fact that dolphins and birds listed in Russia’s Red Book (of endangered species) are dying is very sad indeed .”

Its ironic that UNEP had declared 2007 the Year of the Dolphin.