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Absheron National Park

Absheron National Park
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 Absheron National Park was established in the basis of Absheron State Nature Sanctuary in 783 ha area of administrative territory of Baku city Azizbayov district with the decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated February 8, 2005. The National Park is situated in the south-eastern end of Absheron peninsula in the Shah Dili territory. Mild hot climate of semi-desert and dry heathens prevails in the territory. The purpose of establishment of Absheron National Park is provision of protection of wildlife, maintenance of rare endangered flora and fauna species, as well as evaluation of existing natural opportunities for ecotourism.

 More than 50 bird and animal species are encountered in Absheron National Park. Nearly 25 plant species exist in the National Park. Caspian seal which is considered rare species is encountered in the Caspian sea area of Absheron National Park and it is observed in seal cape mostly in May-August. Caspian seal is the unique species of pinnipedia that has been included to the ‘Guinness” book of records as the tiniest seal of world ocean

 - Absheron National Park-the closest natural monument to the capital Baku, the most auspicious point for ecotourism, the site holding the most pure water and the clearest air in Absheron beach; 

- Absheron National Park – the remotest terrestrial area of Azerbaijan conjoining with water;
- Absheron National Park – Entirely wild nature with its flora and fauna.

MUTE SWAN

 Mute Swan exists in the great lakes, reservoirs of the Republic and in the coasts of Caspian Sea. Mute Swan is hibernating and migratory bird. Its color is snow-white (young Mute Swans are light grey in color). It has red and black bill. Mute swan has a knob at the base of the bill on the upper mandible. Mute Swan resembles question-mark bending its neck when in water and on earth. It has no voice and only hisses. Mute Swan hibernates in big lakes of Caspian shore and Lowland regions. Its hunting is prohibited. Less part that don’t nest (20-30 species) of Mute Swan is observed in summer. November is considered fall migration period, and the second half of February is spring migration and return period. Underwater part of plants (root and scion) provides its nutrition. The bird prefers threadlike seaweeds in nutrition. Mute Swan is among rare birds decreasing in amount, and has been included into “Red book” of Azerbaijan. The migration of Mute Swan begins in the last days of February. It feeds on various water insects, their larvae, small animals living in silts as well as underwater vegetation.

YOVSHAN

17 species as well as 1 grown species of wormwood is encountered in Azerbaijan. Wormwood species are considered mostly perennial shrubs, some species are annual or biennial shrubs. Baskets are tiny, are collected in heath bell groups. They are pollinated with wind. Swathe of the basket consists of leaves located in several lines. A group of line buds located beside the basket are considered pistil and seed bearing buds, while the buds in the middle are disexual and seed bearing, or homogeneous stamen buds. Pistil in stamen buds is immature, and radiant shaped. Wormwood species are drought resistant, and able to permeate even in less saline soils. Wormwood is efficient as a forage reserve in winter quarters during winter months. Santonin is obtained from species of wormwood that is used as an anthelmintic.

Caspian Seal (Phoca caspica)

Caspian seal is the unique sea mammal to exist in the Caspian Sea. It is considered the tiniest seal species of the world being the endemic species of the Caspian Sea (existence period – 50 years). According to the estimations carried out in 1987 total number of Caspian seal populations is 360-400 thousands (Krylov, 1989) while estimations conducted by the Commission of Caspian Sea on bio-resources in 2005 say their number is 375 thousands. In 1996 the World Nature and Natural Resources Protection Union carried out discussions on Caspian seals condition and included the status of this species to the red book of the World Nature and Natural Resources Protection Union as a weak species considering gradual contamination of the Caspian Sea and contraction of coastal strip which is living quarters of seals.

Caspian seal can be encountered in any part of the Caspian Sea. The major part of Caspian seal populations migrate during reproduction period. However comparatively few of them (10-15% or 40-60 thousands of the population) consisted mostly of young and non-reproductive species remain in Central and Southern Caspian during this period. According to the results of researches implemented by the Azerbaijan International Operation Company in 1996-1998 helicopter flights revealed the seals staying in Shah-Dili strip, Chilov, Kichik Tava, Boyuk Tava and Tavaalti islands during the year.

Beginning from 1977-78, mostly 1990 considerable part of the existence inshore territory of Caspian seals remained under water after rise of Caspian Sea level. Furthermore preparation works of oil and gas deposits have started in Central Caspian Sea, mostly in Absheron peninsula and eastern islands in former settlements of Caspian seals which effect adversely to the number and distribution of their populations.

The vast majority of Caspian seal populations (85-90%) swim to Northern Caspian in the end of autumn and in winter, adult seals stay here until early spring and reproduce on glaciers in January-February. Subsequently seals copulate within the period from the middle February till the middle March, hence they shell on thick ices before replacement process from inshore sandy shoals and isles to the south-Middle and Southern Caspian of fattening places through shelf area. Seals stay in coastal zone of Middle and Southern Caspian for some periods in April-May and they usually fatten in coastal waters in order to compensate 50% exhausting tallow reserves during winter. After restoration of fat reserves and swimming ability seals move through deep water areas of Middle and Southern Caspian (during May-June) where the bulk of sprout populations gather. During summer (June-August) adult seals prefer to live in deep water and more suspicious conditioned water areas of Middle and Southern Caspian in order to avoid hot weather. During summer months adult seals go ashore only during strong gale. In October-November seals swim through the north - back to the islands situated in north-eastern part of the Caspian Sea, they expect the formation of ices and break of reproduction season by moving through the current or going ashore.

Caspian seal feed on sprouts which consist 78% of its nutrition ration. However infestation of Mnemiopsis leidyi that was firstly discovered in 1999 and became the main rival of sprouts in nutrition plankton caused considerable number decrease of sprouts in recent years.

Currently fisheries of Caspian seals are conducted only in Northern Caspian and are limited with winter copulation period. Hunt of seals in Azerbaijan was prohibited since 1952 (Qurevich, Lopatin, 1962; Krylov, 1989).

Beginning from autumn 2000 new mass extinction wave of Caspian seals was noted. Caspian Environmental Program started implementation of eco-toxicology project almost through the whole Caspian inshore strip with the purpose to reveal death reasons of Caspian seals (in 2000 nearly 11.5 thousands patterns). Carcass of seals was noted in Absheron archipelago zone, mostly in Shah-Dili forest strip. According to the laboratory researches implemented in independent centers of Great Britain, Netherlands, Japan and Russia, the cause of mass extinction of Caspian seals in 2001-2002 was mass epidemic of viral disease called “bubonic plague” which weakens immunity in organism. Mass extinction of Caspian seals in 2000-2001 is connected with pollution of Caspian Sea with chlorine organic compounds and microelements.