VLADIVOSTOK, April 5. /TASS/. Authorities of Russia’s Far Eastern Primorye Region are set to create a rehabilitation center for marine mammals this year on the region’s territory.
According to the plan, it will be located in Srednyaya Bay where 10 orcas and 87 beluga whales are kept now, the region’s Governor Oleg Kozhemyajko told reporters in Vladivostok.
Eleven orcas had been kept for sale to China in the facility in Srednyaya Bay along with 90 beluga whales. However, three beluga whales went missing, and one orca reportedly disappeared. Police are carrying out an investigation. A criminal case has been launched into illegal hunting of these mammals.
The governor said Srednyaya Bay would be a suitable place to create a rehabilitation center for cetaceans, but he did not name any exact timeframes then.
"We are moving towards creating there [Srednyaya Bay] a rehabilitation center because near our shores marine mammals get in trouble from time to time or they are thrown. That’s why we are facing the task of adapting and treating them, and to ensure that they are in normal conditions, and we are discussing this issue with scientists. <...>This year a rehabilitation center will be opened in Srednyaya Bay," the governor said.
Water samples have been taken from both Srednyaya Bay and Paris Bay, but the first place is expected to be preferable.
The governor noted that the authorities together with scientists will start drawing up a roadmap soon. The creation of a rehabilitation center soon will help release cetaceans after treatment or send some of them to local dolphinariums.
On March 11, members of the council of scientists were approved who will be tasked with assessing the condition of these mammals and prepare recommendations for their rehabilitation. Among them will be representatives of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Far Eastern Federal University, the National Scientific Center for Marine Biology and other scientific organizations. The Russian Scientific-Research Institute of Fishery and Oceanography will coordinate its work.
On March 22, the Primorye Region’s administration and members of the Russian Scientific-Research Institute of Fishery and Oceanography as well as representatives of the companies, which hold the whales in captivity, signed an agreement on cooperation to decide on the fate of the mammals and their possible release back into the wild.
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture together with scientific organizations to come up with a solution for the whales.