Over 2,500 seals found dead along Caspian Sea coast
Experts at the Federal Fisheries Agency have collected samples from the seals to understand the exact cause of the deaths.
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Around 2,500 seals were found dead on the Caspian Sea coast in southern Russia, officials said on Sunday. Initial reports on Saturday said that 700 dead seals had been found on the coast. However, after further investigation, the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment raised the figure to about 2,500, which is expected to rise even more.
Officials say that there were no signs of violent deaths and the seals likely died due to natural causes. Caspian seals are classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list since 2008.
Zaur Gapizov, head of the Caspian Environmental Protection Center, said in a statement that the deaths seem to have happened about two weeks ago. There is no evidence to suggest the animals were killed or caught in fishing nets, he said.
Experts at the Federal Fisheries Agency have collected samples from the seals to understand the exact cause of the deaths. There are no signs of any pollutants and lab results will ascertain what exactly happened.
The number of Caspian Sea seals has fallen drastically over the past few decades due to over-hunting and industrial pollution. The fisheries agency puts the overall number of Caspian seals at 270,000-300,000, while the Caspian Environmental Protection Center says there are only about 70,000 of them left.
Several more such deaths have been reported this year, with Kazakhstan alone witnessing at least three such incidents.
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