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Mon, 03/04/2023 - 17:35

Saving the Caspian Seal: Research collaboration of Kazakhstan and Norway

An endangered endemic species of the Caspian Sea - Pusa Caspica - is affected by the consequences of climate change, global warming, pollution, including oil spills, by-catch and illegal hunting. It was listed by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) in its Red List of Threatened Species in 2009. 

The last scientific estimates show that the population of this rare species continues to decline by 3-4% per year. According to the CSRRC (Caspian Seal Research and Rehabilitation Center), currently, due to unfavorable climatic conditions and pollution (industrial, oil, household and other anthropogenic factors), as well as diseases, up to 70% of female Caspian seals can be sterile. Specialists of the Center and its founder, Assel Tasmagambetova, also voice such a problem as by-catch of seals in illegal fish nets.

In addition, since Caspian seals are pagophile animals, which means that they breed, give birth, nurse and train their pups only on the ice, the significant drop in sea level recorded in recent years, global warming and climate change in general cannot but affect the reproduction of the species. Besides pollution, other anthropogenic factors and climate change, diseases affect the seal population. In recent years, cases of mass deaths of seals have not been uncommon. Scientists believe that the constant exposure to harmful substances from polluted water has made the immunity of animals vulnerable to viruses and diseases.

The CSRRC has recently established collaboration with the NIBIO (Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research) to search possible common solutions from their experience of conservation of the Saimaa Seals population in Finland. Currently, the hope is placed on transnational cooperation between all the Caspian countries, since this is the only way to establish common restrictions on illegal fishing and oil pollution, which affect seals, and cannot be overcome by the efforts of one state.


More information on and NIBIO