Tourists in Kazakhstan beat a seal unconscious just so they could take some photos of their children posing with it. The incident was recorded at a beach near the coastal village of Kuryk, which is located on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea.
In the video, a group of people can be seen surrounding the seal with sticks and large rocks as it began to come close to the shore. Meanwhile, bystanders began to gather around and record what was happening, but none of them decided to intervene.
“They beat the seal up until it passed out. Then they pulled it out of the water so that children could take pictures and have fun. After that, they threw the motionless body back into the sea. I don’t know if it survived,” an unnamed witness explained to local media.
В казахстанском селе Курык отдыхающие забили тюленя камнями и палками, чтобы показать его детям и сфотографироваться.😡 pic.twitter.com/rAg7IpUt7T
— «jokЕР»🃏 (@vadim137502) July 8, 2020
Even more disturbing is the fact that this is not an isolated incident. This video hit the web just days after a similar incident on a beach in the city of Aktau, which is just about 43 miles from Kuryk. In a video of that incident, beachgoers can be seen throwing large rocks at a baby seal as it approached them.
The video was shared on Instagram by Kazakh model Yevgeniya Mukasheva who wrote:
“Do people really have a complete lack of brains? How could you throw stones at the defenseless pup and laugh? Have you lost your mind? When will we already understand that it is necessary to value and care for every creature on the planet? What more pain do we need to strike so that we understand that mercy and compassion must be in our minds?”
The actions have been widely condemned by animal rights activists and authorities throughout Asia.
“The way people acted in the video is outrageous and wild,” said Saken Dildakhmet, a spokesperson for Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources.
“Such an attitude can cause great damage to the fauna of the Caspian Sea and adversely affect the behavior of these animals who may become aggressive and attack people. We ask you to show respect to nature. The seal in the clip is young and playful. The seals are mostly very friendly and curious marine mammals. We should admire them,” Dildakhmet added.
Authorities are now searching for suspects in both of the cases. If anyone is caught, they could face a maximum sentence of two years in prison.
The Caspian seal is one of the smallest members of the earless seal family and is unique because it is found exclusively in the brackish Caspian Sea. They are found along the shorelines and also on the many rocky islands and floating blocks of ice that dot the Caspian Sea. In winter, and cooler parts of the spring and autumn season, these marine mammals populate the Northern Caspian Sea. As the ice melts in the warmer season, they can be found on the mouths of the Volga and Ural Rivers, as well as the southern latitudes of the Caspian where cooler waters can be found due to greater depth.
Evidence suggests the seals are descended from Arctic ringed seals that reached the area from the north during an earlier part of the Quaternary period and became isolated in the landlocked Caspian Sea when continental ice sheets melted. The Caspian seal is endemic to the Caspian Sea and its population has fallen drastically, by over 90 percent since the beginning of the 20th Century, according to regional conservationist group Caspian Seal Project.
Due to increased industrial production in the area, pollution has had an effect on the survival of the Caspian seal. From 1998 to 2000, the concentration of zinc and iron increased dramatically in the tissue of dead, diseased seals. This suggests these elements are causative agents in compromising the Caspian seal’s immune system.
A century ago, their population was estimated at 1.5 million seals. In 2005, 104,000 remained, with an ongoing decline of 3–4% per year.
In 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) officially announced that the Caspian seal was “Endangered” and at risk of extinction due to economic activities around the Caspian Sea and coastal development in the Caspian littoral states of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan.