The Khazarskiy State Nature Reserve, tthe Caspian Group of the IUCN Joint SSC-WCPA Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force, Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan.
Monitoring of the Caspian Seal (Pusa capsica) in Turkmenistan, January – October, 2022
Between early January and late October 2022, the Khazarskiy State Nature Reserve organized several scientific expeditions in the Turkmenistan area of the Caspian Sea. The research work was conducted by S. Mammedov, Head of Scientific Department, Y. Ashirov, Head of Security Department from the Khazarskiy State Natural Reserve, and employees of the Ogurchinskiy Sanctuary: S. Nurmammedov, Head of the Sanctuary, and R. Amanmammedov, an operator.
One of the research objectives was to survey the Caspian seal in the Khazarskiy State Nature Reserve (the Khazarskiy and Esenguliyskiy sectors, the Ogurchinsky Sanctuary). Expeditionary routes included Bolshoy Osushnoy Island and Malyy Osushnoy Island in the Turkmenbashi Bay, as well as the Yuzhnaya Chelekenskaya Spit, Mikhailova Island and Ogurjaly (former Ogurchinskiy) Island in the Turkmen Bay (Fig. 1), where the Caspian seal haul outs were most often registered in 2016-2021 (Rustamov et al., 2021).
Fig. 1. Locations of registered encounters with Caspian seals in the Turkmenistan area of the Caspian Sea, April – June, 2022: I – Bolshoy Osushnoy and Malyy Osushnoy islands; II – Mikhailova Island; III – Ogurjaly Island; black marks indicate locations of the registered encounters with Caspian seals.
From the beginning of January to the end of March, 2022, the expedition members did not encounter Caspian seals in the monitoring areas. The first seal was recorded on the northeastern spit of Ogurjaly Island on April 04 (Table 1).
14 Caspian seals (8 adults and 6 juveniles) were registered by April’s expeditions on Ogurjaly Island and its northwestern spit. The only haul-out of 10 individuals was found in the southern area of Ogurjaly Island on April 18. In April, on the northeastern spit and in the southern area of Ogurjaly Island, we found two weakened young seals (Fig. 2), one of them, suffering from a few injuries, was severely exhausted.
Fig. 2. Juvenile Caspian seals: a weakened seal, the northeastern spit of Ogurjaly Island, 04.04.2022; an exhausted seal suffering from a few injuries, the southern area of Ogurjaly Island, 04.18;2022. Photos: S.B. Mammedov.
In May, 23 seals (21 adults and 2 juveniles) were encountered on the Yuzhnaya Chelekenskaya Spit (the Cheleken Peninsula), in the southern area of Ogurjaly Island and on its southern spit. The maximum number of seals (9 individuals) was recorded on the southern spit of Ogurjaly on the 28th of May.
In June, the expedition registered 18 Caspian seals (15 adults and 3 juveniles); one seal was on Mikhailova Island, the others – on the southern spit of Ogurjaly. The maximum number of seals (8 individuals) was encountered on the southern spit of Ogurjaly on the 6th of June.
From the beginning of July to the end of October, no Caspian seals were encountered in the monitoring areas.
In total, 55 seals (44 adults and 11 juvenile animals) were encountered in the Turkmenistan area of the Caspian Sea in January – October, 2022.
To download the full article.
In the top photo: a Caspian seal is near the southern spit of Ogurjaly Island, 06.26.2022.
The photo by S.B. Mammedov.