Caspian Seal, credit Wikipedia.
Caspian seals, the only mammals found in the Caspian Sea, have been classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list since 2008.“The number of discovered animals may increase. The cause of death has yet to be determined,” the press service for the region’s fisheries agency said, according to Russian state media outlet TASS.
The seals washed up on the coast of Russia’s republic of Dagestan, along the Caspian Sea, the largest landlocked body of water in the world.
TASS said, “researchers had already started working on identifying the cause of the mammals’ deaths.”The news comes after more than 140 Caspian seals were found dead on Kazakh beaches of the Caspian Sea earlier this year, according to KASPIKA, an agency for the conservation of Caspian seals.
According to the IUCN, the Caspian seal population has suffered from overhunting, habitat degradation and climate change. The Caspian Sea is bordered by five countries: Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan.
A century ago, their population was estimated at 1.5 million seals; in 2005, 104,000 remained, with an ongoing decline of 3–4% per year.
Canine distemper virus
Several recent cases of large numbers of Caspian seals dying due to canine distemper virus have been reported, in 1997, 2000, and 2001.
In April 2000, a mass die-off of Caspian seals was first reported near the mouth of the Ural River in Kazakhstan. It spread south to the Mangistau region, and by the end of May, more than 10,000 seals had died along the Kazakhstan coast. High death rates were also recorded in May and June along the Apsheron peninsula of Azerbaijan and the Turkmenistan coast—Wikipedia.