Near the southeastern city of Nakhodka, off the Pacific coast of Russia drone footage was captured a couple months ago in late 2018, of over 100 animals (cetaceans), stuck in extremely small enclosures.
An estimated 11 orca “killer whales,” and 90 beluga whales are probably still being imprisoned in these small enclosures, that were referred to as “whale jails.” This might be illegal, it was pointed out, but morality goes beyond the law: this is obviously wrong.
The UK-based Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) published the original report, noting that this constitutes the largest ever known number of marine animals to be held in captivity in such a degrading way.
You can bet the Western media would avidly report on anything negative happening in Russia, but this needs attention drawn to it so it all works out. The government funded media in Russia reported on this story the same as the rest.
Profit was the motivation, as anybody could have predicted. It was reported that the cetaceans were most likely captured, and stored in treacherous conditions there to be sold to Chinese ocean theme parks. Up to $6 million or more could be obtained by the people running the operation, for a whale they had captured, reports claim.
The most populated country on the planet, China contains over 60 marine parks, and as it was reported when this story came out, 12 more of them are being built right now.
Making profit from the capture and international (or even domestic) sale of whales is strictly illegal: international law bans the practice. The only legal way to capture a whale is for “scientific and educational reasons,” which may be even worse than capturing whales to sell them to theme parks, because that often involves animal experimentation.
A reported 3 companies are responsible for these 101 imprisoned cetaceans. In three years, at least 13 orca whales were exported to China between 2013 and 2016, according to Novaya Gazeta, a local investigative newspaper that exposed the practice going on in their own country.
It has been said that the companies abused a loophole in the law, that doesn’t specifically outlaw the “rental” of animals. Then, it was reported that prosecutors would look at whether or not the whales were really captured to be “rented,” or maybe for “educational or scientific purposes.”
“The scale of what is happening here is shocking,” said journalist Masha Netrebenko.
“From the air we saw that there are loads of white beluga whales in enclosures built in the water. The helicopter couldn’t go very low – because when it was less than 100 metres above the ground, it was entirely losing control. Apparently these businessmen are so prepared that they even installed jammers. But the picture I have seen has deeply shaken me,” he continued.
The journalist also claimed that the trade may be tied to the Kremlin, the Russian government. Hopefully that isn’t the case because that would just further add to political tensions.
At this point, not a lot of new information has come out about the situation, but it has only been a few months.