About 170 endangered seals found dead on Russia’s Caspian coast
Researchers say the deaths may have been caused by ‘industrial pollution, fishing or poaching’.
The seal population of the Caspian Sea has for decades suffered from overhunting and the effects of industrial pollution [Marine Mammal Research and Expedition Center/AFP]
6 May 2021
At least 170 endangered seals have washed up dead over the course of several days on the shores of the Caspian Sea in Russia’s republic of Dagestan, according to researchers.
“These are the dead animals that we saw, photographed and whose GPS coordinates we noted,” Viktor Nikiforov of the Moscow Marine Mammals research centre told the AFP news agency on Thursday.
Toxins in plastic blamed for health, environment hazards
Jane Goodall: To fix the environment, fix poverty
The environmental and labour movements must work together
Images shared with the AFP showed several seal carcasses washed up on the beach.
The deaths may have been caused by “industrial pollution, fishing or poaching when seals get caught in the nets”, Nikiforov said.
“Maybe this is the consequence of climate change or several causes at the same time,” he added.
He said that it would take a year of “serious surveillance” to precisely identify the cause of the disaster.
According to researchers, the seals were found about 100km (62 miles) south of Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, and others washed up 50km (31 miles) north of the city.
Contacted by AFP, the Russian Federal Fisheries Agency in the North Caucasus said it had dispatched inspectors to carry out a new count.
The Investigative Committee, which probes significant crimes in Russia, said it was looking into the incident.
[Marine Mammal Research and Expedition Center/AFP]
Overhunting, pollution
The Caspian Sea, the world’s largest inland body of water, is bounded by five countries: Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan.
The seal population of the Caspian Sea has for decades suffered from overhunting and the effects of industrial pollution.
Experts say there are now about 70,000 Caspian seals, down from more than one million in the early 20th century.
Pollution from the extraction of oil and gas there, along with declining water levels due to climate change, pose a threat to many species and put the future of the sea itself at risk.
The UN Environment Programme has warned that the Caspian “suffers from an enormous burden of pollution”.
In December 2020, authorities reported the death of nearly 300 endangered seals on Dagestan’s Caspian shore.
Climate change brings gains for some Vietnam farmers at a cost
Rising river salinity forcing rice farmers to switch to lucrative shrimp but move threatens fragile mangrove ecosystems.
6 May 2021
‘Crazy year up north’ as Arctic ice shrinks to near-record-low
Scientists say warming in the Arctic melted the ice covering the polar ocean to its second-lowest level in 40 years.
22 Sep 2020
Thousands of seals found dead at breeding colony in Namibia
Cause of mass die-off unknown but scientists suspect pollutants, bacterial infection, or malnutrition.
25 Oct 2020
A drop in China’s unemployment rate hides a lack of jobs
Armenia’s Pashinyan claims ‘convincing victory’ in snap polls
New Zealand’s Hubbard selected as first transgender Olympian
Apple Daily could shut ‘in days’ after Hong Kong asset freeze
Israeli PM says Raisi win a ‘wake up’ call over Iran nuclear deal
Prominent UAE activist Alaa al-Siddiq dies in London car crash
Iran’s only nuclear power plant undergoes emergency shutdown
Who is Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s next president?
Our Channels
Our Network
Follow Al Jazeera English:
© 2021 Al Jazeera Media Network
You rely on Al Jazeera for truth and transparency
We understand that your online privacy is very important and consenting to our collection of some personal information takes great trust. We ask for this consent because it allows Al Jazeera to provide an experience that truly gives a voice to the voiceless.
You have the option to decline the cookies we automatically place on your browser but allowing Al Jazeera and our trusted partners to use cookies or similar technologies helps us improve our content and offerings to you. You can change your privacy preferences at any time by selecting ‘Cookie preferences’ at the bottom of your screen. To learn more, please view our Cookie Policy.
Cookie preferences