Russian authorities announced on June 20, 2019 the imminent release of cetaceans piled up in basins in the Far East and whose fate had caused some controversy around the world.
In the midst of Vladimir Putin’s annual Q&A on television, a public television reporter reported live that two orcas and six belugas had been removed from the basins where they were to be released into the wild. The February 2019 broadcast of photographs of 11 orcas and 93 belugas present in small pools near Nakhodka in the Russian Far East in the summer, triggering a wave of international protests.
In the face of the scandal, the Russian authorities had promised to reintroduce the cetaceans into the sea. However, they had attracted scientific criticism by saying they would release them in the immediate vicinity of the place where they were held captive, 1,300 kilometers from their place of residence in Okhotsk Sea.
Finally, the marine mammals must be released off an archipelago in the Sea of Okhotsk. According to Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Gordeyev, the release of all animals will take “about four months”. “A killer whale can be sold for, as far as I know, nearly $100 million (…) When big money is involved, the problems are harder to deal with. Thank god things are starting to move,” Mr. Putin said.
The government has promised to remove the legal loophole used by traffickers to sell animals abroad, particularly in China.