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BIODIVERSITY[WATCH] Over 100 Whales Seek Freedom from Russian ‘Whale Jail’

Maureen SantosApril 22, 20193079 min

Will Russia have the heart to release the more than 100 captive cetaceans from its “whale jail”?

Cetaceans are classified into two groups – herbivores and carnivores. They breathe air, gives birth, produce milk, and have hair. Herbivore cetaceans include sea cows, manatees, and dugongs of the order Sirenia. Carnivore cetaceans include whales, porpoises, and dolphins.

More than 100 whales are held “prisoners”

Bordering the Vladivostok City lie the Russian “whale jail” where over 100 whales are being held captive. These include killer whales (orcas) and belugas. They will soon be exported to marine parks in China where they will be used for either research or tourist attraction. Russian officials said that these marine mammals will be analyzed for any diseases or injuries as an initial move to free them into the wild.

These poor marine animals are currently confined in the Russian “whale jail” of Srednyaya Bay bordered by ice. Last summer and fall, they were caught off of Sakhalin Island by 4 companies, all of which were associated with one common businessman. These companies are looking to make a killing from the sale of these whales.

Bounty price for bounty seller

Orcas can sell for up to $3.5 million each and belugas for $150,000 each from marine parks in China. According to RIA Novosti, Russia had already exported 15 killer whales to China from 2013 to 2017.

The story about the Russian “whale jail” emerged last October when local activists revealed the truth about the illegally captured whales that were going to be sold to marine parks in China. It was also found out that the issued permits to capture whales were illegal. A criminal case has been opened and Russian officials have prohibited the capturing of whales along with their calves.

According to the UK-based Whale and Dolphin Conservation, 15 killer whales that were transported to marine parks in China were caught in Russian waters.

Government to the rescue

The government announced in January of this year its takeover of the whales’ custody. The commitment started last month with the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment‘s invitation to collaborate with Jean-Michel Cousteau (Ocean Futures Society) and Charles Vinick (Whale Sanctuary Project).

They have plans to transport the whales back to where they were captured. However, the thick ice makes this an impossible feat, leaving killer whales and young belugas to depend on humans to take care of them and feed them for the time being.

Before the cetaceans can be released into the sea, they need to undergo checkup first. Some of the marine mammals have shown signs of hypothermia due to the huge sheets of ice surrounding the crowded Russian “whale jail”. Whales swim in the open seas for hundreds of miles to keep warm, but the little space in the pens make them cold.

Greenpeace Russia notes as well that a few whales have skin lesions and deterioration of flippers. Others have injuries that could have been caused by knocking into ice sheets.

China opens orca breeding center

SeaWorld may have closed its marine parks for public entertainment but China is starting to set the trend again. The Chimelong Group revealed that it inaugurated its orca breeding center on February 24. The Chimelong Ocean Kingdom marine park is owned by one of the country’s biggest amusement park operators. It is located in Zhukai, where it is currently housing 5 male and 4 female orcas. These killer whales range from 5 to 13 years of age and were caught in the Sea of Okhotsk in Russia.

Orcas or killer whales are the biggest dolphin species. They are also one of the smartest ocean hunters on the planet. According to marine biologists, the sparseness in stimulation and uncomfortable, subpar conditions in confinement can stress out the mammals. As such, they are known to bite and repeatedly swim in circles. Younger cetaceans are prone to die earlier than old ones.

Whether old or young and wherever they live, animals should be free and not held captive. They also need respect and freedom like we humans do.

Maureen Santos

She lets everyone become aware of what is happening to our beloved planet Earth and its inhabitants. She can take you beyond the space and find out how neighbor planets are doing. Moreover, she would open your eyes to the things what makes the Earth suffer including the living species and allow you to decide what you can do to help save the planet and the future generation.

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