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Keeping orcas in enclosures is more dangerous than releasing them, ecologists say

May 16, 16:58 UTC+3 VLADIVOSTOK

Eleven orcas caught for sale to China and 90 beluga whales were kept in the marine animal center in the Srednyaya Bay

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© Yuri Smityuk/TASS

VLADIVOSTOK, May 16. /TASS/. The release of orcas to the Sea of Japan is dangerous for the animals, but it is still better than further keeping them in enclosures, head of the Sakhalin Environment Watch Dmitry Lisitsyn told TASS on Thursday, commenting on the decision made by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to release them in the Srednyaya Bay.

"We negatively treat the decision to release them in the Srednyaya Bay as it contradicts the recommendations of the scientific group who had been specially gathered to make them. We believe that this decision is dangerous for both the animals and people living in the Primorsky Region. Still, any release of the whales is better than their further keeping in the enclosures," he said.

On May 14, the Russian Research Institute of Fishery and Oceanography recommended releasing orcas and beluga whales in the Shantar area of the Sea of Okhotsk, where they had been caught. However, the next day Vyacheslav Rozhnov, Director of the Severtsov Institute for Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences, stated at a briefing in the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment that there are plans to release the animals from the Srednyaya Bay.

Lisitsyn said that the Coalition "Freedom to Orcas and Beluga Whales," which includes the Sakhalin Environment Watch, is ready to take part in gathering funds for the cetaceans’ release.

The coalition includes seven public organizations that joined their efforts to fight for the orcas and beluga whales’ release to the environment. It earlier lobbied for French oceanographic explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau to join the work with the animals. Cousteau took part in their examination in April.

Eleven orcas caught for sale to China and 90 beluga whales were kept in the marine animal center in the Srednyaya Bay. Three beluga whales got lost, and the disappearance of one orca was later reported. A criminal case on the illegal hunting of living marine resources was launched.

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