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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Seals Dying in Lake Baikal

Ecologists said that polluted water from a cellulose factory may be responsible for poisoning dozens of freshwater seals whose bodies have washed up on the shore of Lake Baikal in Siberia, Itar-Tass reported Monday.

Russian television showed pictures of about 50 of their rotting corpses on a beach on the southern shore of the 650 kilometer-long lake.

Greenpeace activists and members of the Russian Academy of Sciences said the aquatic mammals could have been poisoned by waste water from the cellulose plant, which is discharged not far from where the bodies were found.

Another theory is that the seals might have fallen victim to an epidemic of plague, which decimated the lake's seal population in 1988.

But the disease, if to blame, could have been aggravated by the pollution from the cellulose plant, which is believed to weaken the seals' immune systems. Freshwater seals are unique to Lake Baikal, whose waters used to be reputed for their purity.