Experts Call for the Speedy Release of Killer Whales and Beluga Whales from the “Whale Prison” in Primorye

November 29, 2018

Experts believe that the killer whales and beluga whales kept in the bay of Central Primorsky Territory for sale in foreign aquariums should be released as soon as possible, otherwise they will die.

“Delay in releasing killer whales into the wild and in transferring the beluga whales to the rehabilitation regime, and the lack of public and expert control can lead to grave consequences for cetaceans. This is the general opinion of the experts, ”Dmitry Lisitsyn, head of the regional public organization (RPO) Sakhalin Environmental Watch, told Interfax-Far East.

According to him, the longer they sit in crowded conditions and in tight containers, the greater the likelihood of deterioration of their health from stagnant water, poor diet and stress.

  1. Lisitsyn stressed that according to the unanimous opinion of experts, killer whales should be released from the bay as soon as possible.

“They will still be able to find their families who have already left the area of ​​the Shantar Islands and are now migrating to the Kuril Islands and then to the more southern areas of the ocean,” he said.

He added that for belugas it is necessary to create an expert commission of scientists specializing in cetaceans, veterinarians of the aquarium, microbiologists, as well as divers and underwater operators.

“It is necessary to conduct a comprehensive survey of the white whales and clearly separate – who can be released now (who can survive in the wild conditions – IF) and those who need to be grown and adapted. The information gathered by the expert group should be provided to an even wider expert community “in order to make a common and most correct decision,” said D. Lisitsyn.

According to him, Medium Bay is quite suitable for adapting babies to belingas, since these conditions, in contrast to the aquarium, are more close to their natural habitat. As the kids grow, they could gradually expand open-air cages, launch wild fish, imitating hunting conditions, in order to release animals into the sea in the spring adapted to independent living. But according to scientists, other people should take care of belugas, but not trappers.

As reported, at the end of October, Greenpeace Russia and the Sakhalin Environmental Watch public organization stated that 11 killer whales and 90 belugas were illegally kept in the enclosures of Srednyaya Bay in the south of Primorsky Krai. According to zoodefenders, belugas and killer whales were brought to Primorye before being sold to foreign aquariums and zoos. SC initiated a criminal case under Part 3 of Art. 256 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (illegal extraction of aquatic biological resources). On instructions from the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation, specialists from the Pacific Oceanological Institute are examining animals to determine if they can be released into the wild.

Source: Maritime News of Russia

Article Found on Maritime Herald.com

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Why did SeaWorld killer whales die? Animal activists sue for release of necropsy reports

November 29, 2018

By: Lori Weisberg

Multiple animal rights advocates sued the federal government this week in a move to force the release of necropsy reports related to the deaths of three SeaWorld killer whales, including one from the San Diego marine park.

The lawsuit, which targets the National Marine Fisheries Service, is the culmination of a so far unsuccessful quest by marine mammal researchers and advocates to gain access to necropsies they say will help them and others understand how to better care for cetaceans both in captivity and the wild.

Animal welfare groups, including the Animal Welfare Institute, the Earth Island Institute and the PETA Foundation, have been trying since last year to persuade SeaWorld and the National Marine Fisheries Service to release necropsy reports on the 2017 deaths of three killer whales — Tilikum, the SeaWorld Orlando whale featured in the 2013 “Blackfish” documentary; Kasatka, regarded as SeaWorld San Diego’s orca matriarch; and Kyara, a 3-month-old killer whale born at SeaWorld San Antonio.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., argues that regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act require that SeaWorld turn over clinical history and necropsy reports to National Marine Fisheries when certain captive whales, porpoises or dolphins die . . . (to read the rest of the article visit the source)

Source: San Diego Tribune

Mother orca who carried her dead calf at center of hearings over Trans Mountain pipeline

November 29, 2018

Orca mother Tahlequah carried her dead calf for 17 days in July,but her loss is living on among First Nations and Washington tribes that havepresented her as a living witness.

The whale and the loss of her calf were at the center of prayers, songs and testimony before Canada’s National Energy Board in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday, as it continued hearings underway for three weeks as part of its reconsideration of a massive expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Suquamish, Swinomish, Lummi and Tulalip Nations traveled to Victoria to offer testimony to the board against the pipeline, and share cultural teachings about the importance of the orca, salmon and the tribes’ treaty-reserved fishing rights.

The small, but influential board approved the project in 2016. Construction was launched, only to be stopped in August when Canada’s Court of Appeals found the board had not adequately consulted with First Nations, or considered the effect of the project’s sevenfold increase in tanker traffic on orcas and the marine environment.

The board in September was given 155 days by the Canadian government to reconsider its recommendations. 

SeaWorld to close Thursday as county braces for storm

November 28, 2018 (Wednesday)

By: Zac Self

SeaWorld San Diego plans to close Thursday as the county prepares for a storm.

According to a news release, the theme park made the decision due to heavy rain and strong winds that could sweep through San Diego.

The park plans to re-open Friday, November 30.

Showers are expected to develop Wednesday night, becoming widespread and heavier by Thursday.

Rainfall totals are expected to average between .50” to 1.50” for the coast and valleys with 2” to 4” in the mountains and .50” in the deserts.

Strong winds will also accompany the storm. A wind advisory is in effect for the coast and valleys Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and for the mountains and deserts from 6 a.m. Thursday through 6 a.m. Friday. Click here for a look at the full forecast. 

Source: 10news.com

‘I am superbly worried’: West Coast fishermen await decision on restrictions meant to protect orcas

November 25, 2018

A year after the Department of Fisheries and Oceans closed off several West Coast sports fishing area to protect orcas, fishermen say they’re worried more closures are on the way along southern Vancouver Island. 

In 2017, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans closed several areas in the Juan de Fuca Strait to commercial and sport fishing between June and October.

The closure was part of the DFO’s efforts to protect a dwindling population of about 74 southern resident killer whales that feed on chinook salmon, which inhabit those waters in that time period.

Ryan Chamberland, president of the Sooke Region Tourism Association and owner of the Vancouver Island Lodge, says more closures would devastate the small fishing villages along the coast.

“Closing us down — ruining towns, everyone losing equity in their assets and properties, is not going to solve an issue, it’s going to create a crisis,” Chamberland said.

“No one wants to lose their houses and jobs and and their way of lifestyle and opportunities to be on the water.”

The concerns of sports fishermen come at a time when some marine mammal experts say the closures might not even help the endangered southern resident killer whale.

In November, Ottawa announced it wants to establish new areas of critical habitat off the west coast of Vancouver Island for southern resident killer whales— the Swiftsure Bank in the Juan de Fuca Strait between Vancouver Island and Washington state, and La Perouse Bank off Tofino, B.C. 

The DFO says it has consulted on the the critical habitat areas and it’s still planning what fishing restrictions, if any, may be applied next year. Ottawa says designating the area as a critical habitat would also enable it to restrict other activities like whale watching and marine traffic, which some argue disturbs the orcas.

Chamberland was at the Sport Fishing Institute of British Columbia’s annual conference in Vancouver on Thursday, where he says more potential closures were a hot topic.

According to the institute, sport fishing contributes more than $1 billion to the provincial economy each year. 

“I am superbly worried,” he said. “West Coast communities fully depend on the sport fishing industry.”

Effectiveness in question

Andrew Trites, director of the University of British Columbia’s Marine Mammal Research Unit, was also at the conference.

Trites says there isn’t enough evidence to support the view that banning sport fishing has any impact on the southern resident killer whales. 

“I think the intended goal is is all well and good. But I am a bit concerned that management actions are be being put into place without any attempts to determine whether or not they’re effective,” he said. 

Trites doesn’t deny that the southern resident orcas have a food problem — evidence shows that they are thinner than their cousins, the northern resident killer whales.

But he says the more than 600,000 large chinook salmon estimated in the areas where the southern resident orcas roam should be more than enough to feed them.

“The thing is that we tend to look at the food problem as being in our backyard,” he said. 

When they’re not swimming along southern Vancouver Island, Trite says, southern resident killer whales spend the rest of the year along the coast of Oregon and California, where salmon-bearing rivers have been destroyed, dammed or drained.

He says those rivers no longer have enough salmon to feed the killer whales.

There is still some debate about whether marine traffic is blocking the orcas’ access to salmon, Trite says. But the DFO’s restrictions last year didn’t restrict marine traffic — just fishing. 

Worldwide attention

The plight of the whales attracted worldwide attention last summer, after the female orca known as J35 spent 17 days carrying her dead calf as she travelled through West Coast waters.

Only 74 of them remain, and there have not been any documented successful births since 2015. The southern residents are genetically and behaviourally distinct from other killer whales in B.C., and feed primarily on salmon.

Several factors have been attributed to the orcas’ slow demise, including lack of salmon, marine noise and inbreeding.

Source: cbc.ca

THE COURT SEIZED ON THE ORCAS AND BELUGAS CAUGHT FOR SALE IN CHINA

November 24, 2018

The court seized on the orcas and belugas caught for sale in China The court in Vladivostok seized 11 orcas and belugas ‘ 90, discovered the animal in Nakhodka. Animal rights activists suggest that animals were caught for sale in China. The investigative Committee opened a criminal case on illegal fishing. About the arrest of the animals informed the city the site of Vladivostok Vl.ru and non-profit organization “marine mammal Council”. Judgement was delivered on 21 November, but became aware of it today from the letter to the Investigative Committee to Rosprirodnadzor. At the end of October it became known that in the Middle Bay in a remote area Finds contains 11 orcas and 90 Beluga whales caught in Russian waters. According to Russian Greenpeace, pet owners planned to sell them in Chinese aquariums. Commercial exploitation of dolphins is prohibited in Russia by law, but the animals were caught in the cultural and educational quota. The price of one orca in dolphinariums and aquariums China reaches from one to 15 million dollars. Catch animals has caused an outcry among environmentalists. November 16, the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case on illegal catch of whales and belugas. According to authorities, the mammals are young, and their prey is prohibited. On Thursday, the press service of the Agency, the Agency issuing quotas for the catch of marine animals, said that the Ministry warned the General Prosecutor’s office about the inadmissibility of violation of the law when granting rights to catch cultural and educational purposes. The Agency said in response that all quotas are issued legally.

Сообщение The court seized on the orcas and belugas caught for sale in China появились сначала на Latin script’s.

Source: duv-vest.com

Endangered B.C. orcas contend with machine-gun fire and smoke bombs

November 23, 2018

The 74 critically endangered southern resident killer whales frequenting British Columbian waters are slowly starving to death. The last thing they need is to inadvertently swim into the line of fire of a naval machine-gun exercise, say whale researchers.

But that’s exactly what happens from time to time in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, according to longtime whale researcher Ken Balcomb.

An endangered southern resident killer whale breaches in the Haro Straight. Conservationists say southern resident orcas can’t lose many more whales before there are not enough of them to stop their slide toward extinction.

To read the rest of the story visit The Star.com

100 Orcas and Whales Are Trapped in ‘Whale Jails’

November 22, 2018

An estimated 11 orcas and up to 90 belugas are currently being held in what’s being dubbed as a ‘whale jail.‘ According to media reports, prosecutors are now investigating a site near the city of Nakhodka, where dozens of orcas and belugas have been confined to small enclosures to determine whether they’re being kept illegally.

According to the Telegraph, which cited local media, it’s the largest number of whales to ever be held in small temporary enclosure, while some of them have been there since July.

Now, an international group of marine scientists are calling on Russia to stop capturing orcas from the wild. Even though permits for capture are only issued for scientific or educational reasons in Russia, activists have raised concerns they’re really being captured for commercial purposes and being sold to marine parks in China for entertainment. Unfortunately, the industry in China is growing, which has increased the demand for them. Capturing orcas is big business – Orcas can reportedly be sold for up to $6 million, while belugas are worth thousands.

Sadly, according to the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), 13 orca captures will be allowed this year, while the number doesn’t include any who are injured or killed during the process.

In response, 25 marine mammal biologists from around the world are urging the Russian Federal Service for Overseeing Natural Resources to stop captures of wild orcas.

They argue that not only are these captures highly stressful for individuals involved, but they also damage complex social structures and are putting the future survival of orca populations at risk. To see how damaging removing even just a few individuals can be, we just need to look at the Southern Resident Killer Whales who have yet to recover from captures that took place decades ago off the coast of Washington.

“These whales are being captured before Russian authorities complete an environmental assessment to determine whether such actions are sustainable,” said Dr. Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist for AWI. “Aside from poor management practice, captures are without a doubt traumatic and harmful to the whales taken and the family members they leave behind. The science is in on this, but Russian authorities are ignoring it.”

We can never undo the injustices that captive orcas and other cetaceans have been subjected to, but we can certainly create a future where we respect them and protect them in their rightful place in the wild. Considering what we’ve learned about cetaceans, it’s heartbreaking to think about the impact this industry has had on them. Putting them in captivity can destroy family bonds, cause premature death or injuries and inflict psychological harm – all for nothing more than our curiosity and amusement.

Unfortunately, this trade won’t stop until public interest is gone and it’s no longer profitable, which makes avoiding facilities that hold them captive critical.

Source: care2.com

Washington lands chief asks lawmakers for $90 million to improve habitat for orcas, salmon

November 21, 2018

If approved, a $90 million budget request to the Washington state legislature could aggressively tackle what’s needed to help Puget Sound’s southern resident orcas survive.

A request on Monday by Hilary Franz, the state’s Commissioner of Public Lands, would increase the money already being spent on restoring habitats for salmon, removing barriers that inhibit the fish from reaching their spawning ground; researching ocean acidification; and removing rundown vessels on waterways, according to an emailed statement from the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

The department’s previous two-year budget for similar programs and efforts cost the agency $55.5 million, according to Franz’s staff. The overall budget for the department last year was $351 million.

“The items that we’re calling for are not new,” Franz said in an interview. “We’ve been doing this work for our Puget Sound and rivers and lakes and ocean shorelines for quite some time. The difference is that we are asking for an increase in funding so we can rapidly accelerate this work because we don’t believe we have time to waste.”

The request directly addresses suggestions from Gov. Jay Inslee’s orca-recovery task force. The group issued a list of recommendations last week to save the animals, including breaching two dams to increase salmon returns and partly suspending southern resident whale-watching tours for up to five years. It includes $22 million in operating budget requests and $68 million for one-time capital budget projects.

The $90 million request comes amid heightened concerns for the critically endangered local orcas, which suffered three deaths over the summer and haven’t had any of their calves survive in three years due to the lack of chinook salmon and the effects of pollution and vessel traffic in Puget Sound.Advertisement (1 of 1): 0:12

“This is a key moment for us,” Franz said, “to stand up and say ‘Are we going to take action and prevent the demise and lose of our critical orca and salmon species?’ “

Franz is faced with the challenge of getting state legislators to approve her request, but she is confident now is the time to address the issue.

Source: TDN.com

Russia to ban capture of killer whales and belugas in 2019

November 20, 2018

The catching of killer whales and belugas will be prohibited in Russia in 2019, a report prepared by the state ecological expertise of the Far Eastern department of the Russian Federal Agency for Supervision of the Use of Natural Resource (Rosprirodnadzor) said.


The news about 90 belugas and 13 orcas being kept in a “whale prison” in Srednaya Bay near Nakhodka, in the Far East of Russia, generated an international scandal. It was reported that the animals had been caught to be subsequently sold to sea aquariums in China. A criminal case was initiated, while many people arrange protest actions throughout the country, including in Vladivostok, demanding the capture of marine mammals should be banned.

In Vladivostok, as many as 30 people gathered for a meeting to protest against the capture of killer whales and belugas. The activists believe that holding marine mammals in captivity in sea aquariums should be banned throughout the world. This problem is not limited to the situation with the “whale prison” in Russia’s Far East, because many people buy tickets to go to oceanariums and turn a blind eye to the problem, the activists say.

According to the investigators, the inspection of the so-called “whale prison” in Srednaya Bay revealed that fishing companies had no relevant documents for catching belugas and killer whales.   Specialists also found that eleven killer whales and 90 belugas did not reach sexual maturity, while 13 of them were younger than 12 months. Their capture is a serious violation of the Russian law, therefore a criminal case has already been initiated.

Source: pravdareport.com

Alternate Article: maritimeherald.com