Beluga whales can now be often spotted along Russia’s Far East coast

Beluga whales can now be often spotted along Russia’s Far East coast

12 July 2022

Human encounters with beluga whales along the Primorye Territory’s Pacific coast have become frequent since November 2019 when the marine mammals were released into the ocean from Srednyaya Bay where they had been kept for some time. 


This summer, several beluga whales swam up very close to a fishing boat in Amur Bay in Vladivostok.


“We had to stop fishing: first, we spotted one beluga whale near our boat; it saw our fishing tackle and wanted to play with it, so it started to catch the flasher and tug at it,” one of the anglers told RIA VladNews. “At first, we thought that a fish was biting but next we saw a large white spot and started to quickly remove our lines in case we injured it. As soon as we removed our fishing tackle, the whale swam away. Later it returned with its friends.”


Another resident of Vladivostok encountered a beluga whale while he was testing his new underwater immersion equipment at a depth of 10 metres.


“It happened when I was leaving Stark Bay and was submerging to test the new underwater scooter,” the scuba diver told “While I was using my compass to find directions, I didn’t look much at my surroundings. When I found the direction to swim, I raised my eyes and saw a beluga whale’s eyes as close as 30 centimetres from my face. I was a bit taken aback. I managed to take control of myself almost instantly and moved on towards my motor boat. The beluga whale moved along, side by side with me, playing and showing an interest in the scooter,” the diver said, adding that the beluga whale continued to circle the boat for another 20 minutes.


Three more beluga whales were spotted near the Moscow State University yacht club in the Peter the Great Gulf where they were seen ranging along the coast for over six hours. According to yachtsmen, this was not the first time they had seen beluga whales in this area.


“They might have driven a shoal of fish into the bay and were feeding on it,” a yachtsman ventured.


Local divers decided to get acquainted with marine mammals and later posted their story on social media.


“As soon as we dived, beluga whales approached us, showing no aggression, however, after I inadvertently touched one of them, they started to behave aggressively and tried to bite us,” a diver said. “They tried to pull a flipper off me and caught another diver by the elbow. Incidentally, all this aggression is good, it is great – it means they are now wild marine mammals.”


By way of reminder, scientists do not recommend that people come into contact with beluga whales because feeding, touching or chasing them could lead to disastrous consequences for both the people involved and the marine mammals.