Earlier this week, 170 seals were stranded in different places along the shores of the Caspian Sea in the Russian republic of Dagestan and more exactly in a perimeter of 150 kilometers from north to south of the city of Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan . "These are dead animals that we saw, photographed and whose GPS coordinates we noted ," said Viktor Nikiforov, scientist at the Moscow Marine Mammals Research Center.
The cause of death has not yet been determined. However, several hypotheses are under study. “ It may be linked to industrial pollution, fishing or poaching, when seals get caught in the nets, or even the consequences of climate change. Or to several of these causes at the same time , reports Viktor Nikiforov.
Nowadays, there are only 68,000 seals left in the Caspian Sea, whereas there were more than a million at the start of the 20th century. Seals were the victims of an intensive hunt that lasted until recently. Today, industrial pollution poses a serious threat to the species because, according to researchers, it is the cause of sterility. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the species as “endangered”.
According to UN experts, “pollution is linked to the oil industry, radioactive and industrial waste, or even large volumes of wastewater. The flora and fauna of the Caspian are also suffering from the drop in sea level caused by climate change, with rising temperatures causing water to evaporate. "
It should be remembered, however, that the strandings of seals that died at sea are not uncommon in this region of the world, without examinations being able to determine the exact causes each time. Unless they remain carefully confidential.
The Caspian seal is the only mammal inhabiting this sea. Since 2020, it is listed in the Red Book of Russia. The number of seals, whose colonies are spread between Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Russia, is disputed. Indeed “ The last aerial census - a kind of census - was carried out in 2005, and approximately 100,000 animals were registered” , declared in September 2018 to the Kazakh media The Village, the Kazakh biologist Assel Baïmoukanova. According to Interfax, Vyacheslav Bisinov estimates that “ the Caspian seal population is stable and includes 270,000-300,000 specimens.” Zoologist Ilya Gomiranov estimated on Russian television channel TV Rain that the population had risen from one million to 40,000 or 60,000 specimens.
Status: Federated Russian Republic
Area: 50,270 km²
Population: 3,085,738 inhabitants
Common borders: Kalmykia, Chechnya, Stavropol Krai, Georgia, Azerbaijan