MOSCOW, July 6. /TASS/. Later this month, a group of Russian scientists will embark upon an expedition to study Baikal seals, or nerpas - a species of freshwater earless seal endemic to Siberia’s Lake Baikal, the press service of the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution said.
"During the expedition, scientists will tag Baikal seals with satellite beacons, allowing to track the migration of the animals in the lake for several months. Besides, humane methods will be used to take biological samples from those animals," the press service said in a statement. "The study would provide an insight into the condition of the animals who are hauling out on Ushkan Islands."
The expedition was organized by the Lake Baikal Foundation and will include scientists from the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, the Baikal branch of the Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO) and representatives of the Barguzin Nature Reserve and the Zaybaybalsky National Park.
The study comes as part of the Year of the Nerpa project, initiated by the Lake Baikal Foundation in April 2018, against the background of discussions on whether commercial hunting of the animal should be resumed.
The head of the Russian Fisheries Agency, Ilya Shestakov, earlier told TASS that the population of Baikal seals, which have the ‘Least Concern’ status on the IUCN Red List, was ten times above the number required for natural conservation of the population, and needed to be regulated. However, he added that it was a ‘very delicate and complicated issue,’ which must be solved with the participation of environmentalists.