Threatening Elements

What are the dangers that threaten Caspian seal’s life?

۱)          Pollutants in the Caspian Sea: The pollutants that threaten the Caspian seal’s life are: pollutants from petrol; industrial waste, including heavy metals; agricultural pesticides; radioactive waste; household waste; and sound pollution such as noise from the boats and marine vessels. The pollutants could cause food poisoning or other problems for the Caspian seal. Some of the toxic material from the pollutants could weaken the Caspian seal’s immune system. They might also weaken the seal’s fertility.

۲)          Decrease in food supplies: Food decrease happened in recent years for the following three reasons: (i) overfishing; (ii) pollutants; and (iii) foreign species introduced to Caspian Sea from the Atlantic Ocean, such as the Mnemiopsis Leidyi. According to Iran’s Fisheries Organization, in recent years, the population of Caspian sprats, the main food source for the Caspian seal, has decreased by more than 70%.

۳)          Hunters: Most Caspian seal hunting happens in the northern countries in the Caspian Sea for two reasons: (i) the pups’ beautiful white fur which is used for producing fur coats and fur hats; and (ii) the adult seals’ meat is used as a food source in fox farms. The latter used to be mostly done in Kazakhstan, which has fortunately stopped for some years now, but is still legally done in Russia. As a result, more than thousand Caspian seals are hunted every year.

۴)          Fishnets: At times, Caspian seals get stuck in fishnets accidently, which is a problem that happens in Iran. In these situations, if the fishermen do not rescue the seal in time and do not take them to a health center, the seal could choke to death under water, or die instantly or after removing the fishnet due to injuries. The fishermen unfortunately check the nets which they locate in the fishing stations only once a day. Going to the stations more than once does not happen due to long distance and petrol cost. As a result, in many cases, by the time they get to the fishnet and find a seal in there, the seal has most likely been under water for more than 20 minutes and has already choked.

۵)          Climate change and global warming: Caspian seals travel to the northern part of the Caspian Sea where the water is shallow and frozen to give birth, and then take care of their pups. Global warming and ice melt are serious danger to them.