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



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 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.


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.


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.


Alternate Article:

Beluga whale sanctuary is world’s first to rehome mammals kept in captivity

June 26, 2018

The world’s first beluga whale sanctuary is being created to rehome mammals kept in captivity.

Two females called Little Grey and Little White will be the wildlife haven’s initial residents when they are transported from the Chinese aquarium they have been cooped up in since 2011.

It is hoped the Sea Life Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary in Iceland will help bring an end to whales and dolphins being held captive for entertainment.

Trust chief Andy Bool said: “We’re delighted to break new ground in marine animal welfare. This project is a pioneering solution to how the aquarium industry can reshape the futures of whales in captivity.

“We believe providing a more natural habitat for Little Grey and Little White to dive into cool waters and interact with the natural environment will greatly enhance their quality of life.”

The sanctuary is being set up in ­partnership with Whale and Dolphin Conservation at a bay on Heimaey island, off Iceland’s southern coast.

It will be as a more natural home for the pair than in the aquarium. WDC chief executive Chris Butler-Stroud said: “We hope it will create a blueprint for further such ­sanctuaries for belugas and other captive whales and dolphins, which are desperately needed to address the risks captivity poses to their health and welfare.”

It will be as a more natural home for the pair than in the aquarium. WDC chief executive Chris Butler-Stroud said: “We hope it will create a blueprint for further such ­sanctuaries for belugas and other captive whales and dolphins, which are desperately needed to address the risks captivity poses to their health and welfare.”

Little Grey and Little White, both 12 years old, will move from Shanghai’s Changfeng Ocean World to the ­sanctuary next spring.

They will make the 6,000-mile trip by air, land and sea and are undergoing training to get them used to the ­equipment that will transport them.

The sanctuary, backed by a donation from Merlin Entertainments, will comprise of a natural sea inlet and include a landside care facility and visitor centre, to help off-set long term running costs.

But the Sea Life Trust insisted it “will be very carefully controlled to ensure the whales are not disturbed in their new and very natural environment”.

It is hoped more captive belugas will be taken to the sanctuary. But there are no plans to house dolphins.

Activists sound alarm over Russia’s whale trade

August 3, 2017

A young beluga whale looks down as it is winched in a net onto the deck of a rusty Russian ship moored at a far-eastern port.

“Don’t forget us, bitch!” shouts one of its captors onboard the ship as the animal is deposited next to three more belugas and rows of other sea mammals such as seals.

The grim footage — aired in a recent Russian documentary — shines a spotlight on a murky and poorly regulated trade in marine mammals that has made the country the biggest supplier of some species to aquariums across the globe.

Activists documented squalid conditions and dead beluga whales being hastily buried as traders exploited loopholes in legislation to turn a lucrative profit.

“We started making a film about aquariums, but I couldn’t imagine such a huge business behind them, a huge corrupt system,” said Gayane Petrosyan, who directed the film “Born Free” that premiered earlier this year.

While many countries around the world are phasing out the use dolphins for entertainment, China’s industry is expanding and Russian animals are its star performers.

“The animals are treated as a commodity,” Petrosyan said.

– Loopholes –

Officially Russia has exported 91 live marine mammals — including seals, whales and dolphins — since the beginning of 2016, 84 of which went to China, according to available customs figures.

Each year, the government permits traders to catch about 10 orcas and 150 beluga whales for zoos and oceanariums, said Dmitry Glazov, deputy chairman of Russia’s Marine Mammal Council of scientists.

Permits for orcas, which fetch at least a million dollars each, are especially in demand.

While these numbers may sound low, activists believe the true figure is higher as fishermen abuse quotas meant to cover animals captured for educational or scientific purposes to export them commercially.

“If you catch an orca for education and cultural purposes in Russia and then sell it to China for those purposes, that’s against the law,” said lawyer Maxim Krupsky, who helps scientists opposing the trade.

– Population fears –

While neither orcas or belugas are listed as globally endangered animals, Russian scientists say that the lack of oversight in the trade and recent research means they are left in the dark over the numbers remaining in their waters.

“For many marine mammal species, it’s not even clear how many animals there are, there have been no studies since the Soviet times,” academic Glazov said.

A rough headcount in 2010 suggested there are two separate populations of beluga whales in the Russian Far East, and it would be sustainable to only catch 15 annually from each group, he said.

In reality, hunters focus on one group in the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan, grabbing as many as 80 animals in a single season and especially going after the juvenile females most important for the population’s reproduction.

And as the animals are caught for “education” rather than commercial purposes, the government is not even getting any money in taxes from their sales, Glazov added.

Glazov said that the controversy resulted in an unofficial halt on live catch in 2016, but this year the government has allowed it again.

– Orca shows –

Whale and dolphin species like belugas and orcas are highly intelligent mammals who travel large distances and have complex societies. Unlike other animals, they are believed to live shorter lives in captivity.

International controversies surrounding their wellbeing in captivity as well as several killings of trainers by orcas, also known as killer whales, have put public pressure on parks like SeaWorld in the US, which announced it would stop keeping them last year.

In China however, new parks are opening up. Nine Russian orcas were unveiled this year in Chimelong Ocean Kingdom park, and at least two more entertainment facilities are opening over the next few years that promise shows featuring orcas.

All orcas caught in Russia come from the less numerous mammal-eating killer whale variety, rather than the fish-eating one, said Erich Hoyt, a research fellow with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation and co-director of the Far East Russia Orca Project.

Hoyt estimated the number of mammal-eating orcas as “probably in the low hundreds” in the Russian Far East.

“There is a risk that live catch will significantly erode the Russian orca populations,” he said.

Glazov agreed that the practice should be stopped for all marine mammals in Russia.

“Until we know their numbers, there should be a moratorium on catching them,” he said.


Seaworld Attendance Down


May 10, 2017

Attendance at Seaworld has taken a dive.

It’s down 15% through the first quarter of 2017.

But the company blames the timing of Easter this year and not controversies about the park for the decline.

With the holiday in April instead of March, many schools pushed their spring breaks back.

Seaworld points out its year-to-date attendance is roughly the same as a year ago.

It’s told investors it projects to hit profit and revenue projections.

Over a broader stretch of time however, attendance is down at Seaworld parks.

The drop is almost 10% from 2012, in the wake of protests over treatment of killer whales.

Seaworld has had a couple rounds of layoffs since then.


Blackstone exits SeaWorld

May 9, 2017

Zhonghong Zhuoye Group Co Ltd has closed its buy of a 21 percent stake in SeaWorld Entertainment Inc at a price of $23 a share or about $449 million. Blackstone Group was the seller. The deal was announced in March. SeaWorld, of Orlando, Florida, is a theme park and entertainment company.


ORLANDO, Fla. and BEIJING, May 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) (“SeaWorld”), a leading theme park and entertainment company, today announced that a wholly owned subsidiary of Zhonghong Zhuoye Group Co., Ltd. (“Zhonghong Group”) has completed its previously announced acquisition of an approximately 21% equity interest in SeaWorld from certain funds affiliated with The Blackstone Group L.P. (“Blackstone”) at a price of $23.00 per share.
In connection with the closing of the share acquisition, Zhonghong Group executives Yoshikazu Maruyama, President of Zhonghong Group’s American operation, and Yongli Wang, Chief Strategy Officer of Zhonghong Group, will be appointed to the SeaWorld Board of Directors immediately after SeaWorld’s 2017 annual meeting of stockholders, providing the perspectives of a long-term shareholder and substantive expertise in global themed entertainment and business development in China. SeaWorld is also increasing the size of its Board from 10 directors to 11 directors, and Mr. Peter Wallace, Senior Managing Director in Blackstone’s Private Equity Group, has resigned as a director, in each case effective immediately after SeaWorld’s 2017 annual meeting of stockholders.
Further, as previously announced, SeaWorld has signed agreements with an affiliate of Zhonghong Group to support the creation of concept designs and provide development analysis for theme parks, water parks, and interactive parks, along with supporting the visioning of a preliminary family entertainment center concept, and to evaluate potential development opportunities with Zhonghong Group in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau over the next three years. These agreements are expected to generate approximately $14 million in revenue for SeaWorld over the next three years.
About SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter, and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. SeaWorld is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry, and veterinary care. SeaWorld collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. SeaWorld also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned, or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 29,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens®, and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, SeaWorld has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. SeaWorld’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows, and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.
About Zhonghong Group
Zhonghong Group was founded in 1993, and is a diversified holding company headquartered in Beijing, China, with investments in real estate, leisure, culture, and tourism industries. Most recently, the Zhonghong Group acquired Abercrombie & Kent, Group of Companies, S.A., a major international luxury and adventure tour operator. Zhonghong Group has over 13,500 employees globally with varied backgrounds ranging from tourism, finance, real estate, hospitality, leisure, and recreation.
Zhonghong Holding Co., Ltd. (SHE: 000979) is an affiliate of Zhonghong Group and was listed in 2010 on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. The company is principally focused on real estate development and management of leisure, culture, and tourism projects throughout China, with a large portfolio of land holdings in China’s most strategic tourism destinations.
Forward-Looking Statements
In addition to historical information, this press release contains statements relating to future results that are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, which are subject to the “safe harbor” created by those sections. SeaWorld generally uses the words such as “might,” “will,” “may,” “should,” “estimates,” “expects,” “continues,” “contemplates,” “anticipates,” “projects,” “plans,” “potential,” “predicts,” “intends,” “believes,” “forecasts,” “future”, “guidance”, “targeted” and variations of such words or similar expressions in this press release and any attachment to identify forward-looking statements. All statements, other than statements of historical facts included in this press release, including statements concerning plans, objectives, goals, expectations, beliefs, business strategies, future events, business conditions, business trends, the concept development and design agreements, SeaWorld’s expectations with respect to anticipated revenue resulting from the concept development and design agreements and other information are forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements are not historical facts, and are based upon current expectations, estimates and projections, and various assumptions, many of which, by their nature, are inherently uncertain and beyond management’s control. All expectations, beliefs, estimates and projections are expressed in good faith and SeaWorld believes there is a reasonable basis for them. However, there can be no assurance that management’s expectations, beliefs, estimates and projections will result or be achieved and actual results may vary materially from what is expressed in or indicated by the forward-looking statements.
These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and other important factors, many of which are beyond management’s control, that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements contained in this press release, including among others: a decline in discretionary consumer spending or consumer confidence; various factors beyond management’s control adversely affecting attendance and guest spending at SeaWorld’s theme parks, including the potential spread of contagious diseases; any risks affecting the markets in which SeaWorld operates, such as natural disasters, severe weather and travel-related disruptions or incidents; increased labor costs and employee health and welfare benefits; complex federal and state regulations governing the treatment of animals, which can change, and claims and lawsuits by activist groups; incidents or adverse publicity concerning SeaWorld’s theme parks; any adverse judgments or settlements resulting from legal proceedings; cyber security risks and the failure to maintain the integrity of internal or guest data; inability to protect SeaWorld’s intellectual property or the infringement on intellectual property rights of others; risks associated with SeaWorld’s cost optimization program, capital allocation plans, share repurchases and financing transactions; SeaWorld’s ability to execute on its strategy; the risk that Zhonghong Group’s affiliate may be unable to make the required payments under the concept development and design agreements; the possibility that the concept development and design agreements might be terminated early; and other risks, uncertainties and factors set forth in the section entitled “Risk Factors” in SeaWorld’s most recently available Annual Report on Form 10-K, as such risks, uncertainties and factors may be updated in SeaWorld’s periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).
Although SeaWorld believes that these statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, it cannot guarantee future results and readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which reflect management’s opinions only as of the date of this press release. There can be no assurance that (i) SeaWorld has correctly measured or identified all of the factors affecting its business or the extent of these factors’ likely impact, (ii) the available information with respect to these factors on which such analysis is based is complete or accurate, (iii) such analysis is correct or (iv) SeaWorld’s strategy, which is based in part on this analysis, will be successful. Except as required by law, SeaWorld undertakes no obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements to reflect new information or events or circumstances that occur after the date of this press release or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events or otherwise. Readers are advised to review SeaWorld’s filings with the SEC (which are available from the SEC’s EDGAR database at and via SeaWorld’s website at


China loves orca whale shows. But it may be making the same mistakes US parks did.

March 26, 2017

Marine parks are booming in China, including shows involving killer whales that have become increasingly unpopular in the U.S.

But animal rights activists say China hasn’t learned from the mistakes of SeaWorld and other U.S. marine parks, leaving the whales sick and overcrowded, USA Today reports.

China has 44 ocean theme parks, with 18 more sent to open soon. That’s a 20 percent increase in just two years. The number of animals in captivity doubled to nearly 500 between 2010 and 2015.

Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist with the Animal Welfare Institute, recently visited the parks. She said the conditions are putting the trainers in danger, not just the whales.

One show, entitled Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, shows trainers nuzzling with whales. Observers have noticed possible signs of skin infections where the trainers touch them. 

One breeding tank featured six whales packed inside, even though none of them were old enough to mate. 

In other shows, guests can pay to touch bottlenose dolphins. But since they’re not disinfected first, that can lead to diseases. Other experts noted signs of dolphins fighting due to cramped living quarters.

Killer whale shows were deemed illegal in California last September. The documentary “Blackfish” contributed to the shows’ declining popularity. Tilikum, the whale featured in “Blackfish,” died in January.

Mitchel Kalmanson, whose consulting firm has overseen deliveries of whales to China, says show organizers don’t respect the animals’ rights.


China embraces killer whale shows, even as SeaWorld ends them

March 26, 2017

Forget the oohs and aahs. The recent debut of killer whales at China’s largest aquarium here has sparked concerns worldwide that the country is repeating similar mistakes that plagued some U.S. marine parks.

China is experiencing a boom in marine parks as an increasing number of Chinese flock to watch the sea creatures perform. That also has resulted in overcrowded tanks, poor water quality and ignorance about marine mammal illnesses at the attractions.

Park operators are ignoring animal welfare and worker safety, according to animal rights activists.

“They are going through a learning curve that is not necessary and completely outdated — and they’re taking an enormous risk,” said Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist with the Animal Welfare Institute in Washington, D.C., who recently visited some of China’s largest marine parks. “A trainer will be injured or killed sooner or later. It’d be sad because it’s totally avoidable.”

Between 2010 and 2015, China has seen the number of marine mammals held in captivity doubled to nearly 500, according to the alliance.

“In China, it isn’t that people don’t care but that they aren’t aware of the real situation,” said Keiko Chen, the alliance’s China-based outreach coordinator. “Once people are aware of the real situation behind the scene, they’d feel disgusted and walk away from this form of entertainment.”

China’s Ministry of Agriculture in 2013 established clear guidelines for marine parks, including requirements on water quality, pool size, record-keeping on animals and their care. But it’s unclear how officials ensure compliance, especially with rapid expansion.

A pod of five Chinese white dolphins, which arrived in Chimelong last fall from a shuttered park in Singapore, were living in a turbid tank carpeted with lime-green algae. The population of the dolphins, dubbed “pandas of the ocean,” has dwindled to less than 2,000 in recent years.

At feeding time, staff docent Candy Tang ended her talk to visitors on a hopeful note: “The more we know about these dolphins, the more we’ll cherish them.”

Source: USA