Hundreds of seals die mysteriously in Kazakhstan AFP - Tuesday, April 24 ALMATY (AFP) - Nearly 700 dead seals, mostly cubs, have been found on Kazakhstan's Caspian sea beaches, authorities said Tuesday, admitting that the cause of their demise was still a mystery. Since March 30, 674 seals, including 524 cubs, have been washed up in the Manguistau region in the eastern Caspian, the local office of the environment ministry said. Officials said they were not certain what caused the deaths but it could be Phocine Distemper Virus (PDV), also known as "seal plague." "It could be PDV, which tends to appear after a mild winter," Kajimourat Khairouchev, head of the emergency ministry's regional office, told AFP. The virus killed 12,000 seals in the Caspian in 2000. The seal population in the Caspian has dropped from more than a million a century ago to just 100,000 now. Environmentalists blame pollution, which they say has weakened the seals' immune systems, making them vulnerable to virus attack. (http://uk.news.yahoo.com/afp/20070424/tsc-kazakhstan-environment-b1f5339.html) We have to put up with seal hunting, and now THIS? Poor babies!