Caspian Seal (and Saiga) in Russia

It seems there is no good haul out place in Kazakhstan for this seal anymore. I was willing to do a sea watch with a spotting scope for three days but try explaining that to a Kazak tour company.

But there is a promising place off the Volga delta, see:

The survey team made arrangements through the Astrakhan Biosphere Nature Reserve who are very eco-tourism oriented; they can provide food and lodging and even transfers from the airport. They can also arrange a visit to the Stepnoi Sanctuary for Saiga.

A new post on the site has a Russian newscast of a video from last month. Worth a watch even if no one but Vladimir can understand it.



  1. Vladimir Dinets 12 months ago

    Maly Zhemchuzhny (Little Pearl) Island is off-limits (or at least it was five years ago when I tried for like 10th time to find a way to get there). But you can still see the seals in Kazakhstan. A few months ago someone from the BBC asked me about it so I inquired on FB and people said it’s possible. You can try FB group Mammals of Kazakhstan, I can help with Russian translations.
    P.S. Kazakh and Kazak are very different things, be sure to use these terms correctly or people will get confused.

  2. Lennartv 12 months ago

    Funny this came up today. I was actually looking into the possibilities of seeing Caspian Seal in Azerbaijan today in regard to an upcoming trip in February/March. It seems like the chances of seeing one in Azerbaijan are very little at this time of the year because they will all be on the ice further up north. But just in case: does anyone know of any spots where they might be in Azerbaijan in winter?

    • Vladimir Dinets 12 months ago

      Apsheron National Park, easily accessible just outside Baku.
      There are two other options, but the chances are so low they are probably not worth the trouble. (1) you can try to get access to offshore oil rigs and look for the seals in the sea from the causeways that connect most of them; (2) you can try to get to small offshore islands, but people are usually reluctant to go there because these islands are mud volcanoes and sometimes produce gas eruptions/explosions.

  3. Lennartv 12 months ago

    Yes, your tripreport is an inspiration and much appreciated ;). I am afraid though that all mammals will have to come second to our main goal: seeing the last Siberian Crane of the Western Palearctic. But we’ll do our best to connect with as much other stuff as well.

    • Lennartv 12 months ago

      Oh, upon closer inspection I see I missed the line about Apsheron, that’s my bad. We will check out as much as we can, I’m curious what we will pick up in winter.

  4. Vladimir Dinets 12 months ago

    But the crane winters in Iran, not in Azerbaijan?

  5. Lennartv 12 months ago

    Yeah that’s true, but Iran doesn’t count for WP-listers who strictly follow the borders set out by Cramp and Simmons. That is why in 2020 a group of dedicated WP-birders went to Azerbaijan in the hope of catching it while it was on migration and they managed to catch it on the first try! It’s a good read: Personally I would also have been fine seeing it in Iran as I’m not a very fanatic WP-lister, but it’s going to be fun exploring Azerbaijan with other birders and I like the challenge. And if in the future I do become a fanatic WP-lister I will have a really good bird to start with 🙂

  6. Vladimir Dinets 12 months ago

    Birding will be great, that’s for sure. My first dedicated long-distance birding trip was to the Caspian Sea almost 40 years ago and I’m still impressed 🙂

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