November 21, 2019
This video was posted on Instagram of a former mayor of Vladivostok Vladimir Nikolaev
We found out that it was taken in Krakowka Bay (20 km southeast of Uspenia Bay).
A group of 8 belugas can be clearly seen on the video – 5 belugas are white adults and 3 grey-babies. We are very glad to see that the babies are in the group with adults – under their protection and guardianship the chances of survival and adaptation are much higher than alone.
But this video and Vladimir Nikolaev’s publication cause us many concerns.
1. We showed the video to the scientists and here is their assessment. This is a small helicopter, it was flying at the height of about 20 m (you can see the whirlwinds on the water from the screw). At the same time, experts note that beluga whales in the Sea of Okhotsk were afraid of the helicopter at an altitude of less than 400 m, and the current Rules of protection and fishing of marine mammals prohibit helicopter flights over the protection zones of marine mammals below 4000m. In this case, the helicopter make belugas panic and the animals are trying to escape towards the shoreline.
2. Nikolaev wrote in his post: “We will feed them with fish” – we believe that feeding should not take place. Beluga whales are now adapting and should be hunting on their own, feeding them will prevent this and teach them to approach people closely. Taking into account that VNIRO has not conducted a serious rehabilitation, no one knows for sure whether they can feed or not.
There are many adults in this particular group and the likelihood that they are able to hunt on their own is quite high. But to be sure of this, it is necessary to conduct visual monitoring from a sufficient distance to avoid frightening belugas, and to observe their behavior safely.
Friends, we ask you to leave your comments under the post of Nikolaev @vnikolaev and ask him:
1. to inform us when this video was shot, whether there were other flights with observation of belugas, how many animals were seen in other flights, whether there were observations of belugas hunting, whether he was aware of any cases of observation of belugas in this area from the shore in the last 10 days.
2. Ask to avoid such low flying distances, not to fly over the belugas below 400 m and not to follow them in any way.
3. Ask for help in organizing regular monitoring of beluga whales with the involvement of a representative from the Free Russian whales coalition.