The study of the Baikal seal’s cardiovascular system in normal and pathological conditions

The study of the Baikal seal’s cardiovascular system in normal and pathological conditions

2019 – 2021

The Baikal seal is an endemic species and the only mammal of Lake Baikal. However, the intensive impact of anthropogenic factors on Baikal negatively influences the welfare of the unique animal. Cases of death of seals from asphyxiation and heart failures has recently increased. Nevertheless, the factors that caused these have not been identified. Despite the long history of studies on Baikal seals, data on its anatomical structure are scattered and scarce. Due to the lack of fundamental knowledge about the normal state of the vascular system of the Baikal seal, it is extremely difficult to study deeply and identify the causes of such dangerous pathologies.

The Lake Baikal Foundation’s project aims at studying the anatomical features of the cardiovascular system of the Baikal seal, including the structure of heart, vascular walls, including the blood system, in health and in various pathologies.  

The research is conducted as a part of «Baikal Initiative» grant competition for young scientists under the leadership of Anikienko Inna. 


  • To study features of the Baikal seal’s cardiovascular system in normal and pathological conditions. 


  • To provide grant support to Irkutsk State Agrarian University named after A.A. Ezhevsky for implementing the corresponding project.  
  • To conduct the following works in 2019-2021 within the grant support:
  1. To study the structure and topography of the heart and the main vessels of the Baikal seal’s body;
  2. To study the micro- and ultrastructure of the Baikal seal’s heart and vascular wall of the main arteries in relation to its age
  3. To determine reference values of biochemical, hemorheological and hematological parameters of the Baikal seal’s blood system in normal and pathological conditions;
  4. To research the Baikal seal’s vascular bed in vivo using ultrasound methods;
  5. To study structural features of the membrane of red blood cells determined by the Baikal seal’s lifestyle.


  • The researchers found out the following morphological traits of the Baikal seal cardiovascular system, which:

1) likely, allow to provide the mammal’s brain with substantial amount of the oxygen, when it dives;

2) reduce blood pulsebeat and normalize blood pressure of the mammal;

3) supply the neck muscles from both sides;

4) help with the blood deponation in the liver of the Baikal seal.

  • They also investigated that:

1) vascular supply of the endemic’s sense organs (ear and eye) has some peculiarities, which are not described on the example of other pinniped;

2) big veins wall contains smooth muscle cells, which is uncommon for terrain predators.

  • The scientists explored biochemical, hemoreological, hematological indicators of the Baikal seal blood system.
  • A number of educational materials and lecture handouts on animals’ anatomy, physiology, pathological anatomy and ophthalmology for students with veterinary specialization and vet-sanitary expertise have been prepared. 

The Baikal Seal