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Srednyaya Bay orcas to be released by end of summer — ministry

Еhe priority task is to keep all animals alive

NALCHIK, July 21. /TASS/. The five orcas, held captive in the Srednyaya Bay in Russia’s Far East, will be released into the wild before the end of the summer, Russian Nature Minister Dmitry Kobylkin has said.

"This is a very complicated process, we need to do this work without haste, and to do it during the summer period. I think we have everything that we need, we are on schedule," he said.

Kobylkin said the priority task was to keep all animals alive.

"This is our primary task. We had to prepare a plan of transporting them, and the transportation is a very difficult process," he added.

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. A criminal case has been launched into illegal hunting of these sea mammals.

The first group of two orcas and six beluga whales left Srednyaya Bay on June 20 and was released into the sea on June 27.

The first batch consisted of the two species, as the scientists needed to understand the behavior of both orcas and whales during transportation. The subsequent batches are to involve one species only, with priority granted to orcas, as they must be released before the seasonal migration.

During the second stage of the operation to release orcas from Srednyaya Bay, two females and one male were released in the Khabarovsk Region in Far East. After the pickup in Srednyaya Bay on July 11 and five days of transportation to Perovsky’s Cape, all animals have been safely released in the Sea of Okhotsk.