Today, on February 21 “Free Russian Whales” coalition received information about the “escape” of one orca from so-called “Adaptation Center of Marine Mammals”, better known as the “Whale Jail” in Sredny Bay near the town of Nakhodka (Primorsky Krai).
As of right now we only know that companies, which illigally captured and keep 11 orcas and 87 belugas, prepared for sale to China oceanariums, filed a statement about the loss of the animal to the Nakhodka city police. On February 20, the police conducted investigative check at the facility. According to the companies, the orca disappeared from the first floating enclosure due to damage of the net. The name of the missing orca is still unknown. The Nakhodka police refused to provide information on this subject. The press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Primorsky Territory does not have any information about the incident.
According to the members of the “Free Russian Whales” coalition who visited the “whale jail” on January 18-19, 2019, it is simply impossible for a whale to escape from there. Enclosures with orcas are under the constant supervision of employees of capture companies. Nets are very thick and durable, their integrity is constantly being checked. There is another safety net around all the enclosures, which is also carefully monitored via diving surveys. Enclosures with orcas are under constant video surveillance and the light up throughout the night. Chewing through the nets is not an easy task for the orca, and there are still no reliably documented facts for orcas to do that.
The first enclose(seapen) from which the orca disappeared is under the greatest observation, since the passage to the remaining two seapens with orcas and to all the seapens with belugas is only possible through the first seapen. Employees always walk around and orcas are constantly in sight. In addition the first seapen is surrounded on two sides by seapens with orcas and with belugas and attached to the pier where people are always present. The first seapen is the hardest one to escape from.
At the moment, there is no other information besides the fact of the disappearance of the orca, as well as no evidence of escape. Based on all these circumstances, environmentalists believe that the most likely reason for the loss of the killer whale is its death. One of the youngest orcas male Kirill from the first enclosure was in the most threatening condition and had signs of serious diseases at the time of the inspection on January 18-19. Another possible reason for the “loss of the orca” from Sredny Bay May be secret transportation to another place of detention.
3 young belugas ( presumably one year old) have similarly “escaped” from the facility in the end of 2018. They are the ones who stand captivity the worst and in the wild would still survive off of mother’s milk.
The Public Coalition “Free Russian Whales” is preparing a statement to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation on signs of cruelty to animals, which allegedly led to the death of the orca.
Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Ecology and Environmental Protection Vladimir Burmatov took this situation under personal control and sent a parliamentarian request to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation.
Ecologists note that despite many months of proceedings, numerous facts of violations established by the prosecution authorities and confirming that the capture of orcas and belugas was illegal, despite loud statements by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation about the need to release animals, no government agency has yet made such a decision.
At the same time, orcas and beluga whales are not recognized by the Investigative committee as “material evidence” and are not under arrest.
☑The facts of the loss of the orca and, earlier, the three belugas, urgently require the organization of permanent monitoring of the “whale jail” and the state of the animals that are still kept there by independent organizations.
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