Since 2018, the Lake Baikal Foundation has been holding a unique series of activities aimed at studying the Baikal seal sustaining the welfare of the population. As part of the project «The Baikal Seal Year» in July 2019, an unique expedition to the Ushkany Isles was organized by a group of specialists from A.N. Severtsov Institute for Ecology and Evolution of RAS, The Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography, as well as representatives of «Zapovednoye Podlemorye». The project «The Baikal Seal Year» was supported by the Presidential Grants Foundation.
Scientists shared with us their impressions on the results of field work, as well as talked about the importance of the project.
- Maria Solovieva, zoologist, specialist in marine mammals, leading engineer of the Laboratory of behavioral ecology of mammals of A.N. Severtsov Institute for Ecology and Evolution of RAS, member of the expedition and performer of research:
— We had a long-standing dream to work with the Baikal seal. Thanks to the Lake Baikal Foundation, we managed to implement it.
As part of the expedition, field work was carried out, we installed 15 satellite beacons on the Baikal seal. Until now, such number of seals have never been tagged, this animal was tagged with satellite beacons literally 1 time in history many years ago. We took samples for tests to study the hormonal status, various chemical pollutants and so on. Now we are working on processing these field data, we receive information from satellite tags and by February we are preparing a final report with all the results.
The Baikal seal is an amazing, unlike other animals. We were able to do everything we had planned — that’s the most important thing. The work was carried out on time, quite quickly, all the participants worked very well, which allowed us to achieve good results.
- Natalia Shumeyko, the leading engineer of the Laboratory of behavioral ecology of mammals of A.N. Severtsov Institute for Ecology and Evolution of RAS, member of the expedition and performer of research:
— We can not yet talk about all the results of the studies, as the experts agreed not to disclose them before the preparation of publications. But we can say that the results are certainly amazing. In general, the expedition was successful, in a well-coordinated team, with good animals, on the amazing lake Baikal. Everyone was very happy.