Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Future looks bleak for one of world’s smallest seal species

07.10.2008
One of the smallest seals – the Caspian - has joined a growing list of mammal species in danger of extinction.

Scientists from the University of Leeds together with international partners have documented the disastrous decline of the seal - a species found only in the land-locked waters of the Caspian Sea – in a series of surveys which reveal a 90 per cent drop in numbers in the last 100 years.

The research findings have prompted the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to move the Caspian seal from the Vulnerable category to Endangered on its official IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, announced today in Barcelona [06 October 2008].

Dr Simon Goodman of Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences says: “Each female has just one pup a year, so with numbers at such a low levels, every fertile female that dies is a nail in the coffin of the species. We’re hoping that the seal’s change in Red List status will help raise awareness about their plight, and the many important conservation issues facing the whole Caspian ecosystem.”

Commercial hunting, habitat degradation, disease, pollution and drowning in fishing nets have caused the population of the seal collapse from more than 1 million at the start of the 20th century to around 100,000 today.

Results from surveys conducted in 2005 and 2006, published recently in the scientific journal Ambio, show that in 2006 there were only 17,000 breeding females, barely enough to keep the population viable, given the low survival rate of pups.

Moreover, new results from surveys conducted by the team in 2007 and 2008, show that since 2005 the number of pups being born has plummeted by a catastrophic further 60 per cent to just 6,000-7,000, and the number of adults seen on the breeding grounds of the winter ice-field is down by a third on 2005.

With commercial hunters from Dagestan in the Russian Federation killing more than 8,000 pups in recent years, the team is urging the governments of the Caspian countries to instate a ban on hunting as the first step in avoiding further declines. “Without a suite of conservation measures there is a very high risk the species will become extinct, and possibly within our lifetime,” says Dr Goodman.

The team is using its latest figures and ongoing research to develop a conservation action plan, which will prioritise a ban on hunting the seal and establish protected areas with the countries bordering the Caspian Sea. The basic plan has been completed, but the main recommendations are yet to be fully implemented by the countries of the region.

Dr Susan Wilson, a consultant in seal conservation biology and one of the authors of the Ambio paper says: “Although there are no easy fixes to the problems facing Caspian seals, we hope to get some concrete measures in place over the next year, particularly in Kazakhstan where the government has been quick to recognise the need for urgent action.”

Dr Goodman’s team is also working on a project – funded by Defra through the Darwin Initiative – to enhance the ability of local scientists to monitor and manage the seal population themselves.

Jo Kelly | alfa
Further information:
http://www.leeds.ac.uk

Further reports about: Caspian Sea Caspian ecosystem smallest seal species

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Scientists team up on study to save endangered African penguins
16.11.2017 | Florida Atlantic University

nachricht Climate change: Urban trees are growing faster worldwide
13.11.2017 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>