The Caspian seal is planned to be included in the Red Data Book of endangered and rare species of animals and plants in Kazakhstan. Domestic experts say that this should be the additional measure that will help preserve its numbers. In an effort to preserve the species, the Caspian Seal Research and Rehabilitation Center was opened in Aktau last year. Its specialists are engaged in the treatment and recovery of sick and injured seals, as well as the release of saved animals into their habitat, the Caspian Sea.
“We have special rooms with bathrooms, feeders, and a kitchen. In other words, everything we can do to help the injured seals. Unfortunately, they are usually brought to our center in a critical condition. To save the Caspian seal population, it must be listed in the Red Data Book. Every Kazakh citizen must think about the future existence, the ecology of the Caspian Sea. We ask all those concerned to help preserve the Caspian seal. If you find a wounded seal, please contact our center. Animals coming ashore are obviously in need of help, they are inherently aggressive, that is why they try to protect themselves, but you should not respond with aggression. We need to make every effort to preserve our biodiversity,” the veterinarian of the Caspian Seal Research and Rehabilitation Center Anna Trostetova said.
Experts say that there are several factors that affect the decline in seal populations, including poaching, marine pollution, viral diseases, and intoxication. To date, this animal remains the only mammal living in the Caspian Sea. According to various sources, the number of the Caspian seals does not exceed 170,000. However, scientists say that to this day there is probably still no accurate data to support these figures. This, Kazakh researchers believe, requires several years of thorough and deep study of animal populations, both on land and in water. The last analysis of the number of these marine animals was more than eight years ago.
“Seals are extraordinarily complex species of aquatic creatures that for a certain time live on land, and for another time at sea. This year, for the first time in a long period, three types of seal population counts in the Caspian Sea were carried out using multispectral and visual analysis, as well as filming. These are the first objective data on the number of seals in the Caspian Sea. However, we need records of several years to rely on. Winter counting is especially important, because the seals gather on ice of the northern Caspian Sea for reproduction,” said Director of the Institute of Hydrobiology and Ecology Mirgaliy Baimukanov.
He said that first it is necessary to prepare a legislative basis for conservation of the species and only then include the species in the country’s Red Data Book of rare and endangered species.
“As soon as the Resolution of the Government of Kazakhstan on including the species in the Red Data Book is issued, fishing in the Caspian Sea with gill nets should be immediately prohibited, since this particular type of fishing is one of the reasons for the high mortality of seals. And because, according to the legislation, all measures must be taken to exclude the death of species included in the Red Data Book. If this is not done before the species is included in the Book, then in the future it will be easy to hide the mortality of seals. Legal mechanisms for rescuing seals have not been developed. Research on the structure of the Caspian seal population will also be halted. Therefore, before the decision is taken to include the Caspian seal in the Red Book, it is necessary to develop and agree on a detailed plan for the conservation of the Caspian seal, including the activities preceding this decision,” Baimukanov said.
The decision to add the Caspian seal to the Red Data Book was taken at the meeting of the Interdepartmental Zoological Commission on Fisheries last week. However, the final verdict will be made by Kazakh government in the near future.