This page gives references to academic publications on Caspian seal studies by the CISS (Caspian International Seal Survey) team, the Ecotox and Darwin project teams and their colleagues. The references are given in approximate chronological order, starting with the most recent. Some of these papers may be downloaded directly from the attachments below. We would like to acknowledge with special thanks all our colleagues who have contributed to this ongoing project. Special thanks are due to our Japanese colleagues at Ehime University who worked with us throughout the Ecotox project 2000-02 and to the Japan Trust Fund, which supported the Ecotox project via the World Bank.  In more recent years we would like to thank The Caspian Environment Programme, The UK Darwin foundation, Agip KCO and NCPOC for their support for the po;ulation surveys and study of seal by-catch in fishing nets. 

Wilson SC, Eybatov TM, Amano M, Jepson PD and Goodman SJ.  2014.  The role of canine distemper virus and persistent organic pollutants in mortality patterns of Caspian seals (Pusa caspica).  PLoS ONE 9(7): e99265. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099265.  This paper integrates Caspian seal mortality data spanning 1971-2008 with data on age, body condition, pathology and toxicology for carcases stranded in the mass mortalities between 1997 and 2002. We concluded that organochlorine contaminant levels did not contribute significantly to CDV (canine distemper virus) mortality in the epizootics. We also provided growth curves for both male and female seals, based on the age and body length of stranded carcases.

Dmitrieva L, Kondakov AA, Oleynikov E, Kydyrmanov A, Karamendin K, Kasimbekov Y, Baimukanov M, Wilson S and Goodman SJ.  2013.  Assessment of Caspian seal by-catch in an illegal fishery using an interview-based approach. PLoS ONE 8(6): e67074. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067074. This study was based on interviews with fishermen. A minimum by-catch figure of 1,215 seals for the 2008-09 season was estimated, which could reflect less than 10% of poaching in the N. Caspian, and may include 5-19% of annual births.

Härkönen T, Harding KC, Wilson S, Baimukanov M, Dmitrieva L, Svensson CJ and Goodman SJ.  2012.  Collapse of a marine mammal species driven by human impacts. PLoS ONE 7(9): e43130. doi:10.1371/journalpone.0043130.This paper reconstructs the decline in the Caspian seal population from the mid-19th century to the present day. The reason for the decline is attributed primarily to unsustainable levels of hunting. The prospects for population recovery in the present-day perturbed Caspian ecosystem are discussed.

Härkönen, T., Jüssi,  M.,  Baimukanov, M., Bignert, A.  Dmitrieva, L.,  Kasimbekov, Y.,  Verevkin, M., Wilson, S. and  Goodman, S.  2008.  Pup production and breeding distribution of the Caspian seal (Phoca caspica)  in relation to human impacts. Ambio 37:356-361  This paper provided a first estimate of the present size of the Caspian seal breeding population based on extensive aerial survey of the potential ice-breeding habitat in the N. Caspian. The number of pups and adults in each aerial transect is given and the means of extrapolating the observed numbers to the estimated total is described. The total estimate pup number was estimated at ~20,000, which is much lower than published estimates from the late 1980s and indicates a need for conservation action to prevent further declines. Disturbance to seal mothers and pups caused by the passage of industrial icebreakers was also described, with a recommendation for a separate study on vessel impact.

Härkönen, T. (IUCN SSC Pinniped Specialist Group) 2008. Pusa caspica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Following the results of the 2005-06 population surveys (Härkönen et al 2008) the Caspian seal was listed as 'endangered' on the IUCN red list of endangered species.

Kajiwara, N., Watanabe, M., Wilson, S., Eybatov, T., Mirtrofanov, I.V., Aubrey, D.G., Khuraskin, L.S., Miyazaki, N. and Tanabe, S.  2008.  Persistent orrganic pollutants (POPs) in Caspian seals of unusual mortality event during 2000 and 2001.  Environmental Pollution 152: 431-442.

Kuiken, T., Kennedy, S., Barrett, T., Borgsteede, F., Deaville, R., Duck, C., Eybatov, T., Forsyth, M., Foster, G., Jepson, P., Kydyrmanov, A., Mitrofanov, I., van de Bildt, M., Ward, C., Wilson, S., Osterhaus, A.D.M.E., 2006. The 2000 canine distemper epidemic in Caspian seals (Phoca caspica): pathology and analysis of contributory factors. Veterinary Pathology, 43: 321–338.

Collins, M.D., Hoyles, L., Foster, G. & Falsen, E. 2004. Corynebacterium caspium sp.nov., from a Caspian seal (Phoca caspica). International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, 54: 925–928.

Kajiwara, N., Niimi, S., Watanabe, M., Ito, Y., Takahashi, S., Tanabe, S., Khuraskin, L.S., Miyazaki, N., 2002. Organochlorine and organotin compounds in Caspian seals (Phoca caspica) collected during an unusual mortality event in the Caspian Sea in 2000. Environmental Pollution 117, 391–402.

Anan, Y., Kunito, T., Ikemoto, T., Kobota, R., Watanabe, I., Tanabe, S., Miyazaki, N. & Petrov, E.A. 2002. Elevated concentrations of trace elements in Caspian seals (Phoca caspica) found stranded during the mass mortality events in 2000. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 42, 354–362.π=39

Kennedy, S., Kuiken, T., Jepson, P.D., Deaville, R., Forsyth, M., Barrett, T., van de Bildt, M.W.G., Osterhaus, A.M.D.E., Eybatov, T., Duck, C., Kydyrmanov, A., Mitrofanov, I., Wilson, S., 2000. Mass die-off of Caspian seals caused by canine distemper virus. Emerging Infectious Diseases 6, 637–639.

Ivanov, V.P., Kamakin, A.M., Ushivstsov, V.B., Shiganova, T., Zhukova, O., Aladin, N., Wilson, S.C., Harbison, R. & Dumont, H.J. 2000. Invasion of the Caspian Sea by the comb jellyfish Mnemiopsis leidyi (Ctenophora). Biological Invasions 2, 255–258.π=5

Hall, A.J., Duck, C.D., Law, R.J., Allchin, C.R., Wilson, S., Eybatov, T., 1999. Organochlorine contaminants in Caspian and harbour seal blubber. Environmental Pollution 106, 203–212.

Forsyth, M., Kennedy, S., Wilson, S., Eybatov, T., Barrett, T., 1998. Canine distemper virus in a Caspian seal. Veterinary Record 143, 662–664.