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    » 04/18/2007, 00.00

    KAZAKHSTAN

    Hundreds of seal pups wash up dead on Caspian Sea shore



    More than 500 seal carcasses are found over the past weeks with no one doing or knowing anything about it. Environmental pollution is blamed for this mass death. Seals are affected at a particular delicate moment in their life cycle, namely breeding.

    Almaty (AsiaNews/Agencies) – More than 500 dead seals, most of them pups, have been found washed up over the past three weeks on the Caspian Sea coast of western Kazakhstan’s Mangystau region, the Kazakh Emergencies Ministry announced today. No cause has yet been determined.

    “About 50 of them are grown-up seals but the rest are pups,” a Ministry spokesman said. “It's too early to say what caused their deaths. A special commission is working there to establish the cause.”

    Some news agencies are reporting that the seals might have died of plague infection. Other sources blame the deaths on the sea’s deteriorating environment. In 2000 more than 10,000 seals died because of chronic intoxication.

    The number of Caspian seal (Phoca Caspica) has been dwindling for quite a while. They were believed to total more than 400,000 in the 1980s, but pollution and fishing by-catch are believed to have driven the number to around 100,000.

    Seals are very sensitive at this time of the year which is the end of the breeding period.

    Mels Eleusizov, head of Kazakhstan's environmentalist Tabigat (Nature) party, believes that the oil industry is responsible for the crisis.

    Kazakhstan's section of the Caspian Sea is home to a number of big oil and gas deposits including Kashagan, the world's largest oil discovery in the last 30 years.

    Experts note that the oil fields are loaded with pollutants, most of them a legacy of the Soviet era. They accumulate in seals, weakening their immune systems and causing infertility.

    Elsewhere on Azerbaijan’s coastline, no seals washed up dead, Azerbaijan's Ecology Ministry confirmed. (PB)

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    See also

    10/05/2008 ASIA - CASPIAN SEA
    Beluga caviar at risk of "extinction" within a decade
    Poaching and pollution are reducing, year after year, the sturgeon of the Caspian Sea, which produce 90% of the prized eggs. Now the coastal countries are discussing bans, but other sources of income must be found for thousands of families. The problem of the extensive oil deposits beneath the sea floor.

    14/05/2007 RUSSIA – CENTRAL ASIA
    Putin tightens control over Central Asian energy
    Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan agree to build new pipelines to carry Turkmen gas through Russia. European hopes for a pipeline under the Caspian Sea are dashed. Turkmen president tries to be reassuring saying that he is studying other routes as well. For experts, China is Russia’s main rival in the area.

    28/06/2013 CHINA
    In China, black apples growing on trees. Government torpedoes new anti-pollution law
    The country seems condemned to live in a blanket of industrial fumes: Hebei province hub for coal production has black apples growing on trees. In Qinghai Tibetan monks may have to leave tehir monastery because "they cannot even open their eyes." And the government torpedoes new law for the protection of the environment.

    07/09/2010 CHINA
    Beijing shuts down Hebei steel mills
    The province is the world’s largest steel producer with 620 million tonnes a year. However, pollution and excessive energy use have set off alarm bells in the central government, which switched off supplies.

    13/06/2011 CHINA
    Pollution in Zhejiang: lead in the blood of 600 people
    Yet another case produced by a tin foil factory. The lack of specific standards of work safety and pursuit of profit continue to cause serious pollution incidents. Exasperated population often takes to the street to stop the dangerous factories.



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