MOSCOW — Around 2,500 dead seals have washed ashore on the Caspian Sea in the Russian republic of Dagestan.
The Russian authorities said on Sunday that up to 2,500 animal carcasses had been discovered at various locations in and near Makhachkala, the coastal capital of the republic of Dagestan in the North Caucasus.
On Saturday, there had initially been talk of up to 700 dead seals, and the authorities published videos and photos of them. The cause of the death of the protected animals was initially unclear.
Investigations were ongoing and the number of carcasses could rise, they said.
“This is the largest mass mortality of the Caspian seal in the past 10 years. The reasons will be determined after conducting laboratory tests of the pathological material of the dead animals,” the authorities said, according to the Russian state news agency Tass.
The Caspian seal is an endangered species and is under special protection.
Its population has declined by about 90% in the past 100 years, according to animal rights activists. There is increasing pollution in the Caspian Sea, where oil is extracted.
According to experts, the animals are dying from oil leaks, poaching and overfishing.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.