Orcas and belugas trapped in Russia: hope is reborn!

Orcas and belugas trapped in Russia: hope is reborn!

Dolphinariums
25.04.2019
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One Voice leads a nonviolent fight to defend animal rights and respect all life forms. The organization operates independently and is thus free to speak and act freely.

Relief! An international scientific expedition, supported by One Voice, visited Russia in early April. Eminent experts in marine mammals have gathered around Jean-Michel Cousteau, they have been able to launch a cooperation program to save orcas and beluga whales captive in the Srednyaya bay.

Unfortunately,
it will take a long time, but it is now a certainty: the 97 orcas and belugas illegally captured in the Sea of Okhotsk and
sequestered in the Srednyaya Bay, in the Russian Far East, have now a
real chance of regaining their freedom! Despite pressure to protect
the four companies that appropriated them, local activists have
worked tirelessly to alert the international community and to secure
the movement of leading experts in the support of these endangered animals who are in great suffering. All of this has been achieved
with the consent of the Russian authorities !

International shipping

Engaged
in this collective fight since the revelation of this affair and its
many twists and turns, having helped to lead a team of experts, we
are very happy to be a part of this expedition. The expedition team
leader is Jean-Michel Cousteau of the Ocean Futures Society and
Charles Vinick of the Whale Sanctuary Project – to Russia has been
the organizer from April 3 to 11.

Thank you so much, @onevoiceanimal, for being part of our international effort to free 97 captive orcas and belugas from “whale jail” in Russia and return them to the ocean. #WhaleAid https://t.co/gXm95BTSHp

— Whale_Sanctuary (@Whale_Sanctuary) 10 avril 2019

Their
mission: to assess the condition of the 10 orcas and 87 belugas
locked up in an open-air prison and to advise the government on a
rehabilitation program with a view to their return to the ocean.
There is an urgent need to rescue them, because since the start of
this series of captures in July 2018, four of these unfortunates have
already gone “missing” !

Joint declaration

This
visit allowed a giant step in the coordination and development of the
rescue project. Jean-Michel Cousteau and Charles Vinick agreed with
Oleg N. Kozhemyako, the governor of the Primorsky region where the
prisoners are kept, around a joint declaration. The agreement plans
to immediately begin work to keep marine mammals in conditions close
to their original environment, while also planning the creation of a
re-education and rehabilitation centre for the injured. He also
claims to pursue, ultimately, the goal of freeing them all! We will
make sure of it.

Russian
and international scientists from the Cousteau team will therefore
continue to assess individuals to determine when and how to release
them. The New Zealand biologist Ingrid Visser, who was on the trip
and who saw at first-hand the urgent need to intervene, is delighted
with this tremendous advance:

«It was extremely distressing to see the orcas and belugas so detained, but I am relieved to know that the governor of the Primorsky region where they are being held signed an agreement to rehabilitate them before releasing them.»

Long-term cooperation

Why
not release these suffering mammals immediately? Because their nine
months of detention requires them to readjust to an independent and
wild life. The cold, the stress, the break-up of family cells and the
captivity in artificial groups upset all their social references and
has weakened them both physically and mentally. Today, we must
therefore try first to cure them of the shock they suffered and
create conditions favourable to their release.

Lori
Marino, president of the Whale Sanctuary Project, stresses the
importance of addressing each of them individually, at their own
pace :

«Each of the 87 belugas and 10 orcas is an individual and each of them has faced the trauma of capture and sequestration in a unique and individual way. In this aspect, they are really like us. Thus, each of them must be taken care of individually to assess their mental and physical health and what they need.»

Because, even if the lovers of
dolphinariums continue to struggle to convince themselves that there
is no problem, it remains clear that orcas and belugas are like us.
Emotionally gifted, endowed with high intelligence and possess real
cultures, it is up to us to protect each of them in their
specificity, their own history and their unique psychology !

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