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Caspian Seal


Scientific Name:
Pusa caspica
Length:
1.0 - 1.4 m (3.3 - 4.6 ft)
Weight:
33 - 82 kg (72 - 180 lbs)
Status:
edangered
Prey:
Varies seasonally; crustaceans, variety of fish, shrimp, crab and silversides

Physical characteristics

Has a white coat as a pup which than turns into grey. It is molted annually.

Behavioral characterization

Can dive up to 500 m to search for their prey and goes through a period of molting after pups are weened and adults have bred.

Distribution

Caspian Sea

Population size

Less than 100,000, decreasing 4% per year

Predators

Sea eagles and sometimes wolves.

Migration/Dispersal patterns

Migrate to the southern Caspian Sea in spring.

Social system/Group size

Usually solitary, but they tend to live in large groups during mating season.

Major threats

They are hunted by humans for commerce. Entanglement in fishing gear, the Canine distemper virus, increased industrial production and pollution and large-scale coastal resort development are also major threats to this species.

Research efforts

The Darwin Caspian Seal Project has the following aims: The biological scope of the Darwin Caspian seal project is wide-ranging and includes establishing a programme for the systematic monitoring of population size distribution, health and diet of Caspian seals, and assessment of threats from introduced invasive species, disease, pollution, fisheries by-catch, climate change and habitat degradation. A Seal Conservation Action and Management Plan (SCAMP) is being developed with Caspian scientific partners in the CSCN in all five littoral states. Collaboration with regional stakeholders has been initiated through the Caspian Environment Programme (CEP) in order to translate research findings into practice and implement the conservation plan. The project will work with local communities to reduce sources of seal mortality such as hunting and fisheries-by-catch. The project will further enhance the capacity of the Caspian region scientists to identify and respond to threats to Caspian seals, and have the species more widely recognised as a vulnerable sentinel species for Caspian marine biodiversity. The project will work with local communities to raise the profile of Caspian seals as a flag-ship species for the health of the Caspian ecosystem.

Fun fact

It is the only marine mammal found in the Caspian Sea, and is also thought to be monogamous, a rare trait in seals.