Action or inaction of the authorities? Red-listed seals are dying again in the Caspian Sea

 Seals are again dying en masse on the Caspian Sea coast in Turkmenistan from an unknown disease. Over the past few days, specialists have caught dozens of dead mammals. Radio Azatlyk reported that the Turkmen authorities have ordered the military to shoot seals approaching the shore.

According to a local expert, men from the navy, together with serving sailors, are destroying seal corpses caught in the sea on the orders of the local authorities. This is at a time when Caspian seals are considered endemic to the Caspian Sea and are listed in the Red Book of Turkmenistan as an endangered species. In 2008, the mammals were also included in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Oceanology specialists are extremely dissatisfied with the actions of the local authorities.

“The state believes that seals are not needed. If these animals are also killed, as they do with stray dogs and cats, they will soon disappear. Instead of shooting and destroying seals, the state should increase the number of specialists studying these animals and increase efforts to save them,” said an oceanographer.

It is interesting that these days seals swim from the coastal areas of Turkmenbashi, Avaza, and Cheleken to the shores of settlements, which is an extremely rare phenomenon. Such a picture suggests that the seals are crying for help.

The size of the Caspian seal, the hunting of which is strictly prohibited, can reach 130-155 cm in length and weigh 50-85 kg.

According to oceanologists, the death of Caspian seals in the winter-spring period has already become “traditional”. In December 2022, hundreds of dead seals were caught on the Turkmen coast of the Caspian Sea. And on the Dagestan coast of the Caspian Sea, about 2.5 thousand dead seals were found at the same time.

It is still unknown what is the true cause of the mass death of Caspian seals. But Turkmen oceanologists link the tragic cases among mammals to the violation of the Caspian Sea ecology, emissions from oil and gas enterprises, regular naval exercises, and the increase of factories on the coastal territories.

It should be remembered that Turkmenistan is one of the leaders among the countries of the world in terms of methane emissions. But whether this is the main reason for the discovery of dead seals is still unclear. The Turkmen authorities and official media do not comment on the situation with the death of the Caspian seal.