2 killer whales and 6 belugas today are thrown into the Sea of Okhotsk without any rehabilitation
Statement of the public coalition “Freedom for killer whales and beluga whales”
June 27, 2019.
Today VNIRO stated on its website that the release of 2 killer whales and 6 belugas into the Sea of Okhotsk was successful.
The coalition absolutely disagrees with this and considers this issue extremely unprofessional, painful for animals, violating all world standards and practices and contradicting all the agreed recommendations of leading Russian and international scientists. In fact, it was a sophisticated mockery of animals. It is completely incomprehensible why multi-month animal surveys, numerous meetings of working groups and consultations, inviting the Cousteau team with the best international experts were needed, if ultimately the issue was carried out according to one of the worst scenarios, and in a completely non-transparent manner. The only thing that VNIRO fulfilled from the scientific recommendations is the release to the Sea of Okhotsk.
Before transportation, instead of rehabilitation and preparation for release, the key element of which is the weaning of animals from contact with people, the trapping companies took numerous excursions to animals. The so-called “Program of re-adaptation of killer whales and beluga whales for their release into their natural habitat” was approved by the head of the Russian Fishery Agency only on June 18, 2019, and after only 2 days, on June 20, transportation of 8 cetaceans to the place of release began.
Absolutely unprepared orcas and belugas carried in cramped containers along terrible, broken roads in a practically immobilized state for almost 7 days, which is extremely long for any cetacean. Due to the unpreparedness of the place for release, the animals had to spend extra two days in containers. Finally, it turned out that even the release into the sea was carried out without any possibility for killer whales and beluga whales to recover, to get food after a long fast, to restore motor functions and social ties. VNIRO did not prepare temporary marine enclosures for the rehabilitation of animals at the place of release and did not undertake any efforts to search for groups of wild killer whales and beluga whales in the adjacent waters to increase the chances of former prisoners of the “whale prison” meeting with them.
Despite the general opinion of all scientists about the need to release all 10 killer whales at the same time, and the belugas – in large groups of several dozen animals, about the need to separate their release by time and geographically, VNIRO did everything exactly the opposite.
And finally, the whole operation was carried out by VNIRO in an atmosphere of complete opacity and secrecy, without the admission of independent observers and without providing full information about what is happening. Thus, throughout the entire transportation of animals, despite numerous requests from the public, VNIRO never published a single photograph of a white whale in transport containers.
The Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia, appointed by President Vladimir Putin to be responsible for determining the fate of animals in the whale prison, was completely removed from the release operation. Representatives of independent academic science and public organizations were also not admitted to it. Data from satellite tags on the movement of animals is also completely closed to the scientific and environmental community.
All this gives us every reason to say that the release of the first batch of animals became a complete failure and showed the unwillingness and inability of VNIRO to conduct it even at the minimum necessary level. VNIRO did everything to minimize the chances of 2 killer whales and 6 belugas to survive after graduation. The coalition believes that now only a miracle can save them. In addition, the coalition doubts that all animals were delivered to the place of release alive – if VNIRO published photos of whales from time to time, then whites, at least all six, VNIRO did not provide a photo record of release, as well as not a single transportation video. and release.
In this regard, the Coalition “Freedom to Killer Whales and White Whales” expresses no confidence in the leadership of VNIRO and will seek his resignation.
The coalition requires the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia to urgently start drawing up a rational and animal-friendly plan for releasing the remaining animals based on the recommendations of the community of scientists already provided, including the Cousteau team, with the assistance of leading Russian academic experts and public organizations.
Public Coalition “Freedom for killer whales and beluga whales”