Russia botches release of orcas and beluga whales

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Beluga whale

The Russian organisers of the release of six beluga whales and two killer whales from captivity into the wild have been criticised by environmentalists. They were released from what is described as a “whale jail” in Russia.

Beluga. Photo: Wikpedia

President Putin announced the freeing of the first of many animals kept in cramped conditions in a bay of Russia’s Pacific coast. The motivation behind the release was to put into the minds of observers that Russia was concerned about the environment, wild species and the planet. It appears to have backfired.

Wildlife experts have said that the animals have been dumped in the sea without proper care and rehabilitation. They were not given time to adapt to being in the wild again.

They were released off the Khabarovsk region having been transported 1100 miles by truck and by boat.

A Russian institution concerned with fisheries and oceanography said the release had been successful and that the whales had swum into the open sea. They were fitted with tracking devices.

The Russian sea jails contained 90 belugas and 11 killer whales. They had been caught for sale to the Chinese parks. This caused an outcry for their release.

Jean-Michel Cousteau, 81, the son of the famous oceanographer, Jacques, has visited the enclosure. Greenpeace said that they had failed to follow recommendations and that the release had been rushed. The Russians had violated international standards and had seriously increased the chance of the animals suffering injury or death.