Mass Die-Out of Seals on the Turkmen Coast of the Caspian Sea

Another mass die-out of seals from an unknown disease has occurred on the Turkmen coast of the Caspian Sea, Radio Azatlyk has reported.

In recent days, experts have found dozens of dead seals, whilst the Turkmen authorities have ordered the military to shoot animals swimming to the shore.

But oceanographers are dissatisfied with the actions of the authorities.

“The state believes that seals are not needed,” said an expert who wishes to remain anonymous. “If these animals are 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.”

Caspian seals are considered endemic to the Caspian Sea and are listed in the Red Book of Turkmenistan, as well as in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. According to oceanologists, the death of Caspian seals in the winter and spring season every year has become a trend. It is still impossible to say exactly what the cause of the mass die-outs is, since no information has been released about the studies conducted.

But Turkmen oceanologists attribute the main cause of the deaths to be the violation of the ecology of the Caspian Sea, emissions from oil and gas enterprises, regular naval exercises, and an increase in factories in coastal areas.

In August of this year, Turkmen Foreign Minister, Rashid Meredov expressed his concerns about the deteriorating ecology of the Caspian Sea, including the mass death of seals in 1997, 2000, 2021 and 2022. However, no concrete steps have been taken to remedy the issue.

Stephen M. Bland

Stephen M. Bland

 Stephen M. Bland is a journalist, author, editor, commentator and researcher specialising in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Prior to joining The Times of Central Asia, he has worked for NGOs, think tanks, as the Central Asia expert on a forthcoming documentary series, for the BBC, The Diplomat, EurasiaNet, and numerous other publications.
Published in 2016, his book on Central Asia was the winner of the Golden Laureate of Eurasian Literature. He is currently putting the finishing touches to a book about the Caucasus.

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