MOSCOW, November 10. /TASS/. /TASS/. The Russian presidential council of the development of civil society and human rights said on Sunday it is happy to learn that all of the beluga whales that were kept in captivity in Srednyaya Bay, in Russia’s Far East, have finally been released into the wild but is afraid that other such “whale prisons” may appear.
The last group of 31 beluga whales were released into the wild simultaneously from two vessels in the Bay of Assumption earlier on Sunday.
“We are happy that the animals are free at last. But, regrettably, we are not sure such a situation never recurs. The semi-legal catching and sale of beluga whales can be continued. The situation has not changed in formal terms and amendments to the laws are needed,” the council cited Sergei Tsyplenkov, chairman of its standing environmental rights commission.
Ninety beluga whales and 11 orcas caught for sale to China had been kept in the Primorsky Region’s Srednyaya Bay, since the summer of 2018, but later three beluga whales and one orca got lost. According to investigators, the whales were caught in violation of the Russian laws. A criminal case on the illegal seizure of bioresources was launched.
In June, the gradual transportation of the marine mammals to the north of the Khabarovsk Region began for their release into the wild in groups. The first batch, consisting of two orcas and six beluga whales, was released into the sea on June 27. Three orcas were set free on July 16, and three more marine animals on August 6. The most recent group of orcas and six beluga whales were let go on August 27.
The presidential human rights council has been urging for measures to save the animals since December 2018.