Six white whales leave Srednyaya Bay for release in the Sea of Okhotsk

Six white whales leave Srednyaya Bay for release in the Sea of Okhotsk

20 June 2019

Six white whales and two orcas from Srednyaya Bay in the Primorye Territory are being moved to the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk in the Khabarovsk Territory, where they will be released near the Shantar Islands. This was reported during the annual Direct Line Q&A session with Russian President Vladimir Putin.


According to the president, the orcas alone cost some $100 million, so there are many interested parties. When there is big money, problems are hard to solve, but the process has started, the president said.


The marine mammals were loaded into lorries with water tanks using a crane.


The National Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography said on its website that experts would assist in preparing and moving the animals.


A team of 70 people, which will include marine mammal trainers, researchers, vets and other personnel, will escort the animals. Two experts will accompany each animal in their water tanks to monitor their condition.


“The animals will be moved to their release site by ground and water transport; it will take around six days. In all, they will travel 1,800 kilometres. In planning the route and transportation conditions, we took into account proposals by the working group on re-adaptation and the team of international experts led by Jean-Michel Cousteau,” the message says.


The experience of re-adaptation and transporting such a large number of animals is unique. The process is very labour-intensive and requires high technology, as well as highly-skilled professionals and their ultimate concentration. According to the head of the institute, Kirill Kolonchin, this was the reason that members of the public were not allowed to be present during preparations for the move.


“The marine mammals will be released in stages, with regard for the existing social ties in each group, which will increase the chances of their survival in the wild,” said Vyacheslav Bizikov, executive secretary of the release group and deputy director of the National Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography.


All animals have been fitted with satellite tags to track their movements after the release.

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