Kazakhstan Aims to Protect Caspian Seal Population

ASTANA – The Caspian seal population in Kazakhstan’s part of the Caspian Sea is now approximately 311,000, the press service of the country’s Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources reported on March 29. 

Photo credit: Kazakh Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. Click to see the map in full size. The map was designed by The Astana Times.

The declining population of the Caspian seal has long been a major concern for Kazakh ecologists. Last autumn, the seal population in the Caspian Sea was approximately 400,000.

Kazakhstan has been taking measures to preserve the population of the Caspian seal, including by creating a state nature reserve for their conservation and a feasibility study to establish a specially protected natural area by July 2024. 

The Caspian seal is endemic to the Caspian Sea and the only mammal in the fauna of the sea. They are predators that feed on fish, mainly sprats, gobies, mollusks, and shrimps.

The seals inhabit the northern part of the Caspian Sea and the Middle Caspian coastal areas, typically migrating from the border with Turkmenistan to the Ural River estuary along Kazakhstan’s coastline.

During the warm period of the year, seals live throughout the Caspian Sea and do not form large groups. The migration of seals from the South and Middle Caspian northward usually ends in November, and seals can be found throughout the North-East Caspian, where they feed until water freezes.

Reproduction, feeding of cubs, mating, and molting of the Caspian seal takes place on the ice and islands of the North Caspian in January-April.

Adult female seals give birth to one cub, less often two, and feed it in winter. The lactation period usually begins in the second half of January and ends at the end of February.

The animal was included in the Kazakh Red Book’s list of rare and endangered species in 2020. 

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