How natural and human-made disasters can impact habitats and populations

The explosion of the Kakhovka dam by Russian invaders caused immense human suffering, loss of lives and property, and had a catastrophic impact on the biodiversity and ecology of the region. In its consequences, the dam explosion can be likened to a nuclear explosion.


Immediately after the explosion, massive amounts of water from the Kakhovka reservoir began flooding extensive areas downstream of the Dnipro River, washing everything in its path into the Black Sea. Some remarkable stories that unfolded during this disaster provide interesting examples of how population mixing or the expansion of animal habitats can occur in nature under unusual circumstances.

Several weeks after the tragedy, rafts and islands made of reeds, branches, and debris drifted in the Black Sea, often carrying animals. Some of them managed to traverse hundreds of kilometers by sea until they were washed ashore in a completely different region. An additional factor was the sudden freshening of water in the northwestern part of the Black Sea.


The Odesa Zoo was involved in rescuing and adapting the saved animals (link in Ukrainian), including two muscarts, three raccoon dog puppies, endangered Danube crested newts, frogs, marsh turtles, turkeys, a chicken, and even a female spotted deer that drifted at sea for more than 5 days and was rescued by Ukrainian navy sailors.

Saved frogs



All the rescued animals will be returned to the wild and even to their native habitats. However, the situation itself demonstrates how, in rare cases, animals can overcome hundreds of kilometers of inhospitable environments and colonize new territories or introduce genetic diversity into existing populations.