One of the most extensive inteational expeditions ever undertaken in the Caspian Sea took place at the end of February. It was coordinated by the Center for Research and Rehabilitation of the Caspian Seal, which was established by Aselle Tasmagambatova and the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomic Research (NIBOR).

In addition, the researchers received assistance from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. This university is a collaborator of the Tasmagambetova Institute and has been so since 2022.

The Caspian seal is one of the vulnerable species of animals that is mentioned in the Red Book. Researchers from the United States of America, Norway, Great Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, and Kazakhstan embarked on an expedition to collect as comprehensive a set of data as they could on this species.

These creatures face significant danger from a number of factors, including pollution, unlawful shooting, climate change, and illness.

Only on the frozen surface of the Caspian Sea do female Caspian seals mate, give birth, nurse, and raise their young. The creator of CAIER, Aselle Tasmagambetova, describes the conces of environmentalists with the following statement: "As a result, global warming, including in conjunction with the already documented decrease in water levels, will have a significant effect on the most important sanctuary for seals." The researchers are hoping that, with the assistance of specialized instruments that have been donated to the expedition by collaborators in Saudi Arabia, they will be able to collect essential information about how seals adapt to varying temperatures. "This is a matter of the utmost significance. We have estimates that oil, industrial and heavy metals, agricultural pesticides, radioactive waste, sewage and household waste have poisoned the seal habitat, and that as many as seventy percent of the females of this species may currently be unable to reproduce. These estimates are based on our current knowledge. "In the future, it's possible that the creatures will have to look for new locations to call home," says Tasmagambetova. According to the findings of the biologist, approximately seventy seals have been rehabilitated since the seal rehabilitation facility in Aktau, Kazakhstan first opened its doors two years ago. "Around half of them were captured by illicit networks, so this is another significant problem that needs to be addressed," Tasmagambetova says. "This is another issue that needs to be looked into."

Dr. Tommy Nyman, a researcher at the NIBIO Svanhovd Molecular Center who also took part in the expedition, observed that there are some parallels to be drawn between the predicament of seals living in the Caspian Sea and the predicament of seals living in Lake Saimaa in Finland. "However, despite the fact that the population of Caspian seals is on the decline, we are actually witnessing a gradual increase in the population of Saimaa seals, which has increased from 150 individuals in the 1980s to just over 400 individuals today. According to Tasmagambetova, a Norwegian environmentalist, the most probable explanation for this is the recent implementation of restrictions on the use of fishing nets.

As a consequence of the expedition, the scientists will be required to analyze a substantial quantity of data collected conceing not only the environment in which the rodents of the Caspian Sea live, but also the illnesses and pathogens to which the animals are susceptible. However, it is already abundantly obvious that all of the countries that make up the Caspian region need to come to some sort of reciprocal understanding in order for everyone to make attempts to safeguard the environment of the Caspian Sea along with the aquatic life that lives there.

To be more specific, the Center for Research and Rehabilitation of the Caspian Seal is prepared to take on a coordinating role in the effort to save vulnerable creatures.

According to Aselel Tasmagambetova, the purpose of such expeditions is to develop a targeted transnational policy within the framework of the Tehran Convention with the goal of reversing the current decline in the seal population. "All analyses, studies, and collected material can be used to develop a targeted transnational policy within the framework of the Tehran Convention," she explained.