Two killer whales and six belugas, released from the "whale prison" in Primorye on June 20, were taken to Khabarovsk. They are waiting for a 10-day rehabilitation on the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk, after which the animals will be released into the ocean. It is reported by the press service of the All-Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography with reference to director of the department Kyrill Kolonchin. Then animals will be taken from Khabarovsk to the coast along the Amur River.
Transport with killer whales and belugas arrived in Khabarovsk on June 21. The accompanying group is about 70 people, including scientists, veterinarians, trainers and support staff. According to the veterinarians, the animals feel good. It is planned that for at least 10 days they will have to be adapted in the new habitat conditions. In the course of rehabilitation, specialists examine whales, take a blood test to assess the condition of each animal.
Killer whale (lat. Orcinus orca) is a marine mammal, a group of cetaceans, a suborder of toothed whales (Odontoceti), a family of oceanic dolphins, the largest carnivorous dolphins. Literally all living things can be eaten by them: fish, cephalopods, marine mammals. When food is sufficient, the killer whale peacefully coexists with other cetaceans, but if the killer whales get hungry, they attack without any thoughts on any Rorquals and whales, on other dolphins, Pinnipeds and even penguins. Commercial taking of killer whales has been banned since 1982 by imposing a moratorium. However, it does not apply to whaling of indigenous peoples and to the capture of killer whales for scientific and educational purposes.
Beluga whale (lat. Delphinapterus leucas) is a large mammal, the family Narwhale, subspecies - toothed whales. This animal is the middle link between a dolphin and a whale. External forms have a strong resemblance to a dolphin, but in size it resembles a whale. In everyday life it is called a "polar dolphin". Since 1994, the species is listed in the IUCN Red List with the status "vulnerable". As of May 1999, there were about 30 herds of belugas in the world, the total number of which was estimated at 100–200 thousand individuals. The number of these animals in Russia is unknown.
According to the decision of scientists, animals from the "whale prison" should be released in the Sea of Okhotsk in the area of the Shantar Islands. After that, specialists will continue to monitor the migration of released beluga whales and killer whales with the help of radio beacons. According to experts, the release of batches in a group should increase the chances of survival in natural conditions. Now there are nine killer whales and 81 white whales in Primorye. The exact date of export of the next batch of animals from the aviary is currently unknown. According to the plans, the work on the transportation and release of killer whales and belugas will be completed by October.
Meanwhile, experts and members of the public are concerned that, in their opinion, transporting whales by cars is not the best option, and in this case transportation by sea is considered preferable.
"It is 30-degree heat in the Khabarovsk region now. In such conditions, transportation by sea allows you to change the water almost on the move, and cooling would not be problematic. Therefore, transporting animals in wagons is a bad option. It can lead at least to overheating animals, but it is deadly dangerous for them ", - said the director of the center for the rehabilitation of marine mammals "Tulen", member of the Primorye regional branch of the Russian Geographical Society Lora Beloivan.
In turn, the All-Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography employees justified the choice of road transport by its safety. According to them, this method of transportation reduces the risk of motion on cetaceans, which would have to be encountered during sea transportation. "Scientists analyzed the hydrological situation and weather conditions at the time of the proposed maritime transition, and these conditions were not the most favorable for transportation," the organization’s press service said.
Recall that about a hundred marine mammals (mostly cubs) were illegally caught in the Sea of Okhotsk and were kept in floating cages since the summer of 2018 off the western shore of Srednyaya Bay. Animals were tamed before being sold to oceanariums abroad, most likely China and Japan. Three belugas and one killer whale have disappeared during this time. A criminal proceeding has been opened for the illegal catching of bio-resources.