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Russia starts freeing captive whales after outcry

Six beluga and two orca whales were transported as part of a four-month operation to return all of the whales to their natural habitat.

TOM BALMFORTH: ‘Russia has begun releasing a group of almost 100 captive whales into the wild whose detention in Russia’s Far East since last year has caused an international outcry, state TV said on Thursday. Six beluga and two killer whales were being transported on Thursday, part of a four-month operation to return all of the orcas to their natural habitat, a report aired during President Vladimir Putin’s televised annual question and answer said… The Kremlin ordered local authorities in the Russian Far East to intervene months ago, but the problem of how to release them without causing them harm caused delays… The whales were caught by four Russian companies last summer in the Sea of Okhotsk and were meant to be sold to marine parks or aquariums in China before the law changed outlawing such exports…

The beginning of their release coincided with Putin’s annual question and answer session… In a segment dedicated to the plight of the mammals, Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Gordeyev said that the orcas would be taken back to where they were caught, something campaigners had insisted upon, and released within four months in small groups. “We have taken the only sensible decision at the recommendation of scientists to rebase the animals to their natural habitat where they were caught, to their familiar environment,” the minister said. Putin welcomed the announcement, saying “finally, thank God, there is movement”.’ SOURCE…


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