Scientists continue to monitor Srednyaya Bay beluga whales via satellite tags

Scientists continue to monitor Srednyaya Bay beluga whales via satellite tags

16 March 2020

Experts from VNIRO, the Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography, continue to monitor the movements of beluga whales and orcas released into the wild from Srednyaya Bay via their satellite tags, Vyacheslav Bizikov, the institute’s deputy director for research, said during a meeting of the scientific council working group on marine mammal adaptation/re-adaptation.


According to Vyacheslav Bizikov, all five satellite tags attached to whales in the group of 50 belugas released in the Primorye Territory in November and two tags fixed on whales in the group of 25 belugas released in the Sakhalin Gulf in October are still operating.


“We received the latest signal from the orcas’ tags on 11 January, when the animals were in the open waters of the Pacific Ocean, about 500 miles from Hokkaido. They are two orcas, Kharya and Zoya. As we predicted, the tags were operational for a little over six months, during which we received unique data on the animals’ migration in winter,” Vyacheslav Bizikov said.


Tatyana Belei, director of the Delfa dolphin rescue centre, shared information from volunteers who monitored the belugas near Nakhodka.


“One beluga whale can always be seen near the port: it comes closer to the coast and then swims further away from it. This is typical hunting behaviour for belugas; we have seen it many times in wild animals,” she said.

Vyacheslav Bizikov said that, according to the latest data from the satellite tags, there are three tagged beluga whales near Nakhodka, which likely means there is a group of animals in that area.


“The food supply in the Primorye Territory coastal zone allows the animals to make it through the winter,” the scientist believes.


It was noted during the meeting that no whale deaths have been recorded since the animals were released. The joint monitoring and data exchange will continue.