The carcasses of more than 2,500 endangered Caspian seals were found on a beach in southern Russia on Sunday, which scientists said died from ‘natural factors’ – but natural resources watchdogs point to natural gas emissions.
The seals likely died two weeks ago and there was no indication they were killed or caught in fishing nets, Zaur Gabezov, head of the Caspian Environmental Protection Center, told The Associated Press.
About 700 dead seals were spotted off the coast of the Caspian Sea on Saturday, but within 24 hours, the number had increased dramatically.
Natural resources Svetlana Radionova of the natural resources monitoring agency Rosprirodnadzor said hypoxia is the most likely cause and that scientists are investigating whether natural gas emissions in the Caspian Sea could be responsible for the low oxygen.
This is not the first mass death of the endangered animal – a similar event occurred in December 2021 and these animals were also found to have died due to natural factors.
The beaches along the Caspian Sea were littered with the carcasses of more than 2,500 seals that washed ashore this weekend.
According to messages on Telegram, bodies were found in various locations, many of them in the Yuzbaş region and between the mouths of the Sulak and Šurinka rivers.
Judging by her appearance, she died about two weeks ago, said Dagestan’s Ministry of Natural Resources and there were “no signs of a violent death, no fishing nets left.”
However, scientists are still examining the corpses.
The Caspian seals were added to the list of endangered areas by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2008 due to population declines of more than 70 percent in the 20th century, according to the IUCN.
The decline is due to overfishing, habitat degradation and climate change.
In the aftermath of this incident, the Dagestan Ministry said the total number of Caspian seals remains unchanged, “ranging from 270,000 to 300,000”.
A year ago, another mass death of more than 300 Caspian seals occurred.
Officials found 700 people on Saturday, but when they returned the next day, there were more than 2,500.
Scientists said the animals died weeks ago. While experts refer to “natural factors,” some speculate that the deaths were caused by natural gas emissions
According to an eyewitness account, the bodies washed ashore along a stretch of coast near the port city of Turkmenbashi.
Several dead seals were found by members of the Navy in January. A Turkmen border guard explained in an interview with Azatlik Radio that there are hundreds.
In addition, there are many dead fish and birds on the coast […] Our bosses ask us to keep quiet. Scientists from Ashgabat are trying to find out the cause of the death of the seals, whether it was a virus or waste dumped by local factories.
Biologist Vyacheslav Pesikov, who was involved in the investigations, said, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency, that the investigation of the corpses found that the seals’ organs did not show signs of poisoning with heavy metals or pesticides.
Experts also analyzed tissue samples for the presence of the coronavirus, which also came back negative.
Data shows that dead seals have been spotted on the coast once every few years, but recently the events have become more frequent.
Not too far from the apocalyptic spectacle on the beach is another mystery of dead seals, which are also endangered, washing ashore on the coasts of Hawaii.
In December 2021, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that a young female seal found dead on the island of Molokai in September had been culled with a gunshot wound to the head.
The Caspian seals were added to the endangered areas by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2008 due to population declines of more than 70 percent in the 20th century.
This is the third confirmed intentional killing of a monk seal on Molokashi in 2021, with several other seal killings on the island this year, and the seventh seal to be found killed in the past 10 years.
Examination of the body revealed a bullet fragment in her head, which NOAA says is “associated with evidence of severe and fatal trauma.”
“Deliberate killings of this endangered species are devastating the recovery of this population,” the NOAA statement read.
Bucky Chong, who reported the dead seal to federal authorities, said she was walking along the south shore near Kawila Stream — just as she had done the day before, according to the Honolulu Civil Beat.
When Chung spotted a figure on the sand, she took a closer look and was surprised to see a lifeless seal lying on the sand.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced in December 2021 that a young female seal found dead on the island of Molokai in September had been culled by a gunshot wound to the head.
Examination of the body revealed a bullet fragment in her head, which NOAA said was ‘associated with evidence of severe and fatal trauma’.
Todd Yamashita, operations manager for the Hawaiian Marine Animal Response on Molokai, has been watching the one-year-old female, also known as L11, since her birth.
When Yamashita learned of the seal’s death, he “shouted staccato for a day”.
Unfortunately, two monk seals were killed by a “high force impact” on Molokai in April.
Both seals — a four-year-old male, RJ08, and a three-year-old female, RK92 — were found dead on April 27 on the western side of Molokai, according to officials.
Post-mortem examination results indicate that both seals died of man-made trauma.
“There is a strong and deep-rooted tradition of natural resource management on Molokai, and we know news of these deaths will be felt by many on the island,” NOAA Fisheries said in a statement posted online.
We are grateful to the community and our response network partners for helping recover and relocate the seals.
“We remain committed to supporting community conservation efforts on the island for this indigenous seal.”
There are only a few hundred monk seals left on the main Hawaiian islands, and about 1,100 more live on the remote and uninhabited Northwest Hawaiian Islands.